Ruth’s hobby demonstrates the benefit of music for those living with dementia
A much-loved resident at our Cooksons Court residential and nursing care home in Yeovil, Ruth lives with advanced dementia. Whilst the symptoms of dementia can cause her to struggle with her memory and daily tasks, it has not taken away her obvious passion and talent for music.
When her care team learned that Ruth had been a brilliant pianist in her youth, even entering many music competitions in her teenage years, they were determined to give her the opportunity to indulge her passion once again at Cooksons Court.
The team moved the home’s organ, which was usually only played at Holy Communion and church services, into the lounge where Ruth likes to sit during the day. She now has access to play this whenever she likes, and has been delighting her carers and fellow residents with her musicianship.
The transformational effect of music
Hollie Lewis, Activities Coordinator at Cooksons Court, has witnessed first-hand how Ruth demeanour and expression lights up whenever she sits down to play:
“It’s lovely that Ruth is able to express herself through music again. Ruth is always singing and humming little tunes, and has even memorised some of the jingles on TV adverts. We have always thought this was amazing as Ruth lives with advanced dementia which affects so many other things that she does.
“When it comes to music, Ruth is an expert and knows the words to hundreds of songs, many of which she probably hasn’t heard for years and years. She can pick up songs from just a couple of notes or from somebody else singing a tune.
“Ruth knows an impressive mixture of songs and pieces of music. Her current favourite song to play is the ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’, showing that music can unlock memories and experiences right back to her childhood, which is incredible. Her care team are mesmerised when she plays as it shows how music can be such a powerful tool against the symptoms of dementia.
“It is truly incredible to watch Ruth get lost in the music like nothing else in the world matters.”
The science behind music therapy for dementia patients
Many studies have identified music as having a positive impact on those living with dementia, whether they are playing it, listening to it, singing or dancing along to it.
The specialist dementia nurse charity, Dementia UK, explains:
“For people with dementia – even those who have lost their ability to communicate or are at the end of their life – music can be a powerful way to trigger positive feelings and connect with other people. It can also help a person with dementia to connect with the past by evoking memories, feelings and emotions that they might otherwise find hard to express.
“Music can have a positive impact on people’s mental abilities, too, improving attention and concentration, cognition (thinking), memory, speech and non-verbal communication skills. All of these processes can be impaired by dementia, making music extremely beneficial for people with the diagnosis.”
Living well with dementia
At Somerset Care, we are passionate about supporting our residents who live with dementia to live full and fulfilling lives, through the delivery of personalised care and careful management of their symptoms.
Dementia can affect different people in different ways, which is why it is so important to tailor care and support to meet their individual needs. However, one thing that is consistent is that supporting people to retain, reinvigorate or discover hobbies can be hugely effective in helping dementia sufferers to live the life they choose, regardless of the condition they live with.