Advice for Carers
Wherever and whenever possible, take the time to have a conversation with the person you are with to find out if they would like to experience some music. Is right now a good time for music or would another time be more appropriate?
Be a musical detective and find out what music is meaningful and significant to the individual. Be aware that their musical choices will be connected to memories and experiences which may trigger memories.
Be mindful of the individual’s state of being and support choice making wherever and whenever possible. Try and offer a range of musical activities – what type of musical experience would be most beneficial and appropriate? Would an interactive group activity be stimulating and enlivening or would listening sensitively to a playlist be more appropriate?
Remember that music can elicit whole body responses. Movement can support the integration of emotional, cognitive and physical aspects of an individual. It can increase endorphin levels, aiding relaxation and sense of wellbeing. Engaging people living with dementia in singing and movement can diffuse agitated behaviours and help to redirect attention. Remember that minimal movements can be full of meaning and expression.
Be aware of the environment – too much background or environmental noise can be distracting and cause sensory over-stimulation. For example, switch off the TV if you’re also going to listen to record music or run a live, interactive session.
Familiar music can play a really important role but so too can unfamiliar music. Don’t limit someone’s sound world because of your likes and dislikes – try to keep an open ear.
Recorded music should be constant and not interrupted by commercial, news or commentary. This could cause confusion and disorientate the person listening to music.
Speak with the musicians coming into the care setting, ask if you can support them in their sessions and ask for tips on how to use music if you are unsure or would like to increase your skills and confidence with using music.