Woman's Weekly (UK)
Good to know: The power of music
How the right tunes can help people reconnect
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.
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