Music Therapy for Dementia
Seeing a loved one struggling with dementia can be difficult, watching them slowly be stripped of their independence and their dearest memories. The characteristics that make the person you have known and loved for so long start to slowly slip away. The person with dementia and their family and friends experience a profound loss.
Dementia is the umbrella term for conditions with a severe decline in brain function. Dementia affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide – a number expected to rise to 130 million by 2050.
However, thanks to work being undertaken by Professor Felicity Baker and her team within the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Melbourne, there is hope for a better life for people living with dementia. Evidence shows that music has the capacity to evoke autobiographical recall and stimulate the memories.
With a focus on rediscovering the link between performing arts and well-being, the team have spent the last 12 years studying how music therapy interventions can help to alleviate the distressing behavioural and emotional symptoms of dementia. Evidence from face-to-face delivery of this type of music therapy has shown promising results, and that family carers can be taught how to use music strategically to manage their loved ones at home.
We need your help to take this research a step further.
The team would like to translate their research into a home-based music intervention program . This will enable greater reach into rural and regional communities in Australia and around the globe, where carers have less access to face-to-face visits with a trained music therapy professional.
Family members are often the ones who take on the responsibility of caring for a dementia patient. Many struggle with the burden that this brings, which often results in the heart-wrenching decision to put their loved one into residential care.
By sharing Professor Baker’s work with these carers, we hope to bring happiness into the lives of those coping with the illness at the same time as easing the burden on the carer, helping them to share in the joy that music engagement brings and enabling them to witness firsthand the amazing power that music has on alleviating symptoms of dementia.
The Homeside solution
Professor Baker is a worldwide expert on music’s role in neuro-rehabilitation and dementia and leads the International Homeside team.
Homeside is a home-based family carer music intervention program for people living with dementia, which has been designed to have a global impact. It is cost effective, sustainable and affordable. The Homeside Solution aims to train family carers to use music activities strategically and effectively to manage behavioural and psychological symptoms of people living with dementia, not only working towards the health and wellbeing of the person living with dementia, but also reducing the carer’s stress. Importantly, it provides crucial opportunities for the carer and person living with dementia to experience moments of meaningful interaction as the person behind the dementia comes to life.
The Global Solution is to translate the current face-to-face mode of delivering Homeside into more affordable, sustainable, scalable, and accessible versions – and that’s where we need help.
With your help, Professor Baker and her team are looking to develop an interactive website and mobile phone app to assist carer givers to learn the skills needed to identify and deliver music intervention to their loved ones.
The power of this program really comes in seeing the impact it has on the person living with dementia as well as the carer themselves. Watching them recognise a song and engage with it – often the first true engagement they have had all day – is amazing to witness, and the feedback we have from the carers about how the person they once knew appeared once again before their eyes is so heart wrenching but rewarding. We need to ensure that this powerful impact can be felt by so many more. We need to get Homeside out of the University and into the hands of the carers.
Our aim is that by 2023 Homeside could be available and adapted to suit cultures across the world.