The benefits of music for people living with dementia are remarkable. The new report from the Commission on Dementia and Music, What would life be – without a song or a dance, what are we? calls for the growing positive evidence base to support a more co-ordinated roll-out of provision across the country.
I was delighted to be able to contribute to the report in a small way as a commissioner. I have already signed up my constituency office to becoming dementia friendly so that a person with dementia will be welcomed and can expect understanding, respect and support from me and my staff. I also recently completed the Dementia Friend training for a second time with the Commons Health Select Committee.
That is because dementia is a pressing issue. By 2025 in the UK, there will be one million people living with dementia and the number of people with dementia is expected to triple by 2050.
The Commission brought together neuroscientists, music therapists, charities, start-ups and academics. It found that music can play an important role in helping with the prevention, management, treatment and care for people with dementia.
Music-based activities can change the lives of people living with dementia and their families by enabling communication and decreasing anxiety, agitation and depression, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background.
However, while the evidence base for the positive impact of music is growing, the commission found that access to appropriate music-based activities around the country is uneven and too often relies on hard-pressed individuals and volunteers.
It called for greater awareness of the benefits of music, improved co-ordination and funding that matches the potential for music to make a difference to millions of lives.