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Playing a musical instrument has numerous benefits for people with dementia, study finds

Experts observed significant improvements in cognition, social interactions, confidence, memory recall and happiness

Music dementia

Playing a musical instrument has a host of benefits for people living with dementia, according to a new study conducted by Casio, Music for Dementia, the Utley Foundation, and Methodist Homes, published today.  

For the project, LK-S250 keyboards, which have lights under the keys to signify the correct notes to play, were sent to care homes across the UK. More than 100 residents with dementia took part over a six month period. After that time, 185 therapists, care home managers, friends, family and other residents were asked for notable signs of improvement on a number of wellbeing and physical factors. 

Overall, 79% of music therapy specialists reported a gain in memory recall, with more than 70% observing reduced anxiety and depression. Furthermore, 95% of therapists and 71% of care staff saw heightened levels of social interaction. Residents that engaged with the study were calmer, less agitated and more confident, and they reported feeling happier after completing a song, with 86% of therapists backing their statements up. 

Clare Barone, Music Therapy Lead at MHA, said: “We know from our work at MHA how important music is to the wellbeing of people living with dementia and this research with Casio and Music for Dementia has reinforced that. What we now need is for others caring for people with dementia to embrace tools such as the Casio light-up key keyboards to give more people the best life possible.”

The report is available to read here, and contains full details of the findings, which support a number of previous studies. In 2019, a team at the University of Utah concluded that music boosts resistance against Alzheimer's and dementia. Meanwhile, last year separate work by Music for Dementia and the National Academy for Social Prescribing found music reduced symptoms of depression in people with dementia.  

Photo via Casio and Music for Dementia