Playing a musical instrument has many benefits for people with dementia, study finds

Playing a musical instrument has many benefits for people with dementia, according to new research by Casio, Music for Dementia, the Utley Foundation and Methodist Homes, released today.

For the project, LK-S250 keyboards, which have lights under the keys to indicate the correct notes to play, were sent to care homes across the UK. Over 100 residents with dementia participated over a six-month period. After this period, 185 therapists, nursing home managers, friends, family and other residents were asked about noticeable signs of improvement on a number of physical and wellness factors.

Overall, 79% of music therapy specialists reported a gain in memory recall, and more than 70% observed a reduction in anxiety and depression. Additionally, 95% of therapists and 71% of caregivers reported increased levels of social interaction. Residents who participated in the study were calmer, less agitated and more confident, and they reported feeling happier after completing a song, with 86% of therapists agreeing with their statements.

Clare Barone, Head of Music Therapy at MHA, said: “Through our work at MHA, we know how important music is to the well-being of people with dementia and this research with Casio and Music for Dementia has reinforced that. What we need now is for more people caring for people with dementia to embrace tools like Casio light-up keyboards to give more people the best possible life.

The report is available for reading here and contains full details of the findings, which support a number of previous studies. In 2019, a team from the University of Utah concluded that music builds resistance against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Meanwhile, separate work carried out last year by Music for Dementia and the National Academy for Social Prescribing found that music reduced symptoms of depression in people with dementia.

Photo via Casio and music for dementia

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