Music Mondays – stories of people, music and dementia care

Ben Budd
September 20, 2023
September 20, 2023

By Grace Meadows

I wasn’t sure what to imagine when we thought about making Music Mondays happen. But then for me that’s a musical place to start. When you’re improvising, you might have an idea but it’s not set in stone and it could go in all sorts of directions depending on the person you’re making music with. The same in therapy. You’re led by the person you’re working with – you meet them where they’re at and they show you the way and together you form a relationship that will enable them to explore and work with the things they feel they need to.

But Music Mondays have been slightly different. I’ve had the great fortune to work with the Dementia Carers Count team and deeply think about what we wanted to explore in relation to music for people living with dementia and those who care for them. And not forgetting the people we’ve spoken to who’ve brought each discussion to life – from a husband carer to clinical psychologist to service providers. We’ve had a real mix of people being involved, including lots of family carers who have shared their experiences, asked questions and told their stories about why music matters to them.

We talk about music mattering, but why should we? I could write all day about why we should but put simply, we don’t have a cure for dementia therefore we must, not should, but must ensure that people living with dementia and those caring for them are able to have a quality of life that matters to them. We know that music is one of the most powerful ways of creating and ensuring quality of life and we’ve really tried to think about this throughout our Music Monday series.

From talking about how music and our brains work to answering questions, we’ve tried to cover a lot but there’s always more to talk about when it comes to music and dementia. For me, the overriding takeaway, and would always be when I talk about music is ‘what matters to you?’. I love music but I also know there’s music I’d rather not listen to, in circumstances that aren’t conducive to making me feel whatever it is that I want to feel, and facilitated by people that I don’t have a connection to or with. So, I’ve always talked about the ‘right music, in the right way, at the right time, delivered by the right person.’

That’s a long-winded way of saying make it personal. And that’s tricky, because there are so many ways of making music personal – and they all matter. It could be the time of day, who it’s experienced with, and how it’s experienced. There are so many nuances – and that’s to be expected, as we’re all so individual – but it doesn’t mean it’s not a reason to make music a part of everyday care and life.

Music is something we can and do relate to. We’re inherently musical beings so it makes sense to think about how we harness its power to help us deal with the everyday challenges we face when we’re caring for someone with a condition such as dementia.

If you haven’t been able to join us for any of our Music Monday sessions or missed any of them, you can watch again on YouTube. Dementia Carers Count are passionate about the power of music for those who care for people with dementia and those who live it with, and I have no doubt there will be much more to share about this in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, check out their resources, remember that they are always there on hand to support, and know that if you have a question, we’d love to hear from you so we can try and support you and others who might be going through a similar experience.

If you have a story you would like to share around the power of music, we’d love to hear from you. Whether that’s a text email or video message, we’d love to hear from you about how you use music and talk more with you so we can help other people to access the power of music.

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