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Research finds art and music helps dementia patients communicate

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New research has been released that confirms the benefits of art and music therapy for people with dementia.

The study, which was completed by 2020 Research, found that people living with dementia saw improvements in their communication skills, memory and alertness within two weeks of starting to listen to music. Although dementia patients struggle with some elements of their memory, their capacity to respond to music remains intact, allowing them to benefit from the stimulation provided by music. 

The new research provides support to a previous study that found that older people engaged in arts and crafts activities were 73% less likely to develop cognitive impairment. In addition, research conducted by dementia arts group Suffolk Artlink found that art and music therapy resulted in improvements — such as residents sleeping better or improvements in behaviour — which led to an overall cost saving.

As a result of the new evidence, The National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing (NAAHW) will be reviewing the impact of music and the arts on dementia. Damian Hebron from the NAAHW said: “As commissioners look at new and effective ways to deal with the growing issue of dementia, they are finding that art is a great way to connect people with dementia to their families and their carers.”

Fiona Lowry, CEO of the Good Care Group said: “It is great to see research that highlights the same holistic and person-centred approach which we apply to dementia care at home. All our carers develop real relationships with the people they are looking after, finding ways to help them personally – whether that is through art, music, or another one of their passions. Our carers are also trained to emphasise validation techniques and employ the expert SPECAL approach to develop communication strategies, reduce confusion and enhance well-being.

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