The power of music

We look at how singing and music may help aged care residents and those living with dementia.

Music therapy may benefit people with health conditions such as dementia, cancer, autism, stroke or mental illness, as well as those in aged care, palliative care or rehabilitation. 

What is music therapy?

Trained music therapists use a variety of methods and interventions in ways that suit each person and their needs.

“It’s the act of physically engaging with your body in music; it’s an exercise in itself,” explains music-therapy tutor Imogen Clark from the University of Melbourne, who lists singing, musical instruments, recorded music and improvisation among the methods she uses. 

For those requiring long-term care, one of the greatest benefits of music therapy is the connection people can form with those around them. 

“It can help people connect with their loved ones, and can offer them a form of connection with their carer.”

Keeping the passion alive

Elderly man with family
Pauline Collyer, Recreational Activities Officer at Bupa Aged Care in Tugun, Queensland, has taken this connection to another level, using her own love of singing as inspiration to set up a choir with the residents at Tugun.

“I like to sing, and so I bring music into a lot of activities we do. One gentleman here who used to perform sang for the residents and they just loved it, so together we started a choir and now we practise once a week.”

Benefits of music therapy

The aged care home is seeing great results for the residents, particularly those who are living with dementia. 

“There are some residents who can struggle to put their words together, but if you sing a song they know, they can sing along and know all the words. I see them come alive.”

The home’s General Manager, Terri Cause, adds that the choir gives residents an outlet for their passions. 

“We’ve set up a choir because we have a lot of residents who sang before they came here. It’s about giving our residents the opportunity to continue with their passion for music.”
Carer handing man a trumpet
Cause sees the members of the choir create new connections, boost their self-esteem and feel part of something important, and the benefits are spread to other residents through concerts. 

“[The choir members] sing to other residents and the concerts are always packed. Residents come from our other communities to see them, and they love it. Family members come, too, and it’s nice for them to see their loved ones continue with the things they’ve known them to enjoy. It’s a reminder that they’re still the person they remember.”

Clark also believes music therapy can be an important tool for those living with dementia. 

“For people living with dementia, songs take them very quickly back to their past. They can connect in a much more tangible and coherent way when they’re directed back to a place where their brain is functioning at a higher level.”

There appears to be a positive future in working with music therapy, and Bupa Aged Care is excited to witness the benefits for its residents. 

Bupa Aged Care

Bupa Aged Care offers a full range of care including respite, residential and specialised dementia care.

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