Woman's Weekly (UK)

Good to know: The power of music

How the right tunes can help people reconnect

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We all know how the right music can help to improve our mood – and this is backed up by science. When we listen to happy music we like, our brain releases the feel-good neurotrans­mitter dopamine.

It’s is also a powerful medium for forging emotional connection­s, both with others and with our own distant memories. Among those who benefit the most are people with dementia, many of whom are gaining a new lease of life from music-based initiative­s.

‘Music is calming. It can also contribute to how people relate to each other, and is a way of interactin­g when language is gone,’ says Professor Helen Odell-Miller, director of Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research.

Melodic memories

The Playlist for Life charity aims to help give all those with dementia a unique, personal playlist that can be played easily by anyone who loves and cares for them.

Formed in 2013 by writer and broadcaste­r Sally Magnusson following the death of her mother, Mamie, who had dementia, Playlist for Life offers tips to those

‘Staff in care homes can embed music in their daily care – if it’s difficult to get someone dressed, music can help.’ Professor Helen Odell-Miller

affected by the condition and their carers on creating the ideal playlist, whether you prefer the familiarit­y of an old-school cassette deck, an MP3 player or a subscripti­onbased streaming service like Spotify, plus where to find tunes. Playlist for Life’s website also has a list of dementia-friendly MP3 players from £15-£50.

How can music help?

According to a 2019 World Health Organisati­on report, listening to music that is personally meaningful has proven psychologi­cal benefits, so a personalis­ed playlist can:

✣ Reduce anxiety

✣ Improve the mood

✣ Make difficult tasks more manageable

✣ Evoke memories that can help families and carers connect

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