Hallmark Carehomes
How to use music as therapy for older people

17 May 2021

How to use music as therapy for older people

At Hallmark Care Homes, we understand the benefits of music, especially for residents living with dementia, which is why we partnered with music and health social enterprise, Musica Music and Wellbeing last year.

This Dementia Action Week, we caught up with Rosie Mead, the Founder and Director of our partner to find out her top tips on how to use meaningful music when caring for a loved one.

  • Create a playlist

Even just the act of creating a playlist can be a great way to connect with one another at home. Thinking of songs on the spot can be difficult, so it’s useful to find a prompt that could spark memories and aid reminiscence, such as looking through old photo albums.

If you have access to something like Spotify, it’s a great way to find songs and listen to them together and there might be some memories that come out of that to spark conversation.

  • Don’t let technology be a barrier

Some people might not have access to apps like Spotify, or even the internet, but there’s useful tools that can still be used, such as CDs or record collections. If people have record collections, they have usually collected them over decades and even just looking at them can bring back so many memories. Just the sleeves on them and looking through the art work is a good way to inspire conversations. Take your time going through old record collections, CD collections, looking through photographs and even just using a pen and paper to write down some musical memories.

  • Create a mood through music

You can create various moods through the music you listen to. Think about certain times of the day. In the morning, is there a certain type of feeling you want yourself or your loved one to feel when waking up, i.e., do you want to feel energised or motivated? Thinking about the type of feelings different types of music can provoke can help inspire you to put together playlists.

For caregivers, if washing and dressing your loved one is a particularly difficult task, music can be a great distraction and it can also be a connector to bring people together and stimulate conversations.

  • Use music during mealtimes

Music is also a great way to make meal times more enjoyable. Research shows that playing  light piano music can actually help to aid digestion so your loved one can eat food slower, which means they’re more likely to stay at the table longer and will probably eat more and drink more as well. It will also be a more enjoyable experience. If you think about being at a restaurant, they deliberately choose music so that you will stay at your table longer, and you can create that feeling at home. If you have access to the internet, there’s lots of playlists out there, such as café music and hotel music and you can use this to create any environment you want to a certain extent through the music you listen to.

  • Use music before bedtimes

Before going to bed, if you listen to music between 60-80 beats per minute, it has shown to slow down your heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and aid muscle relaxation which all helps to get you or your loved one ready for a good night’s sleep.

  • Feel empowered to use music as a caregiver

We sometimes take for granted that we are comfortable using technology and can very easily access music through YouTube, Alexa, Google Play, Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms, so from a caregiver point of view, it’s important to know that you’re the one who has got to feel comfortable and empowered to use music. If you have the skills and the confidence to do it, then you can help the individual you care for so they know they can turn to you and it’s available.

This Dementia Action Week, which runs from 17-23rd May, we’re supporting the Alzheimer’s Society in their mission to improve the lives of people living with dementia by measuring the number of hours people living with dementia spend enjoying musical activity in our homes.

We have made this commitment after signing up to the Musica #JustOneHour pledge which encourages caregivers to provide at least one hour of meaningful music a week, after research suggested that people living with dementia in care homes across the country can receive as little as two minutes of social interaction per day, increasing this to just one hour per week significantly improves wellbeing and quality of life.

We’ll also be sharing our residents and team members’ musical memories on our social media channels throughout the week using the hashtag #JustOneHour.

Caregivers who sign up to the #JustOneHour pledge will receive a pack featuring information on why music is beneficial in dementia care, how to use music in individual care, as well as all the tools required to delivmusicer meaningful music in short 10-minute bursts.

Alternatively share with us your meaningful song on our socials by tagging us and using the hashtag #JustOneHour as we’d love to hear from you!

Click here to find your nearest Hallmark care home.

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