Nonprofit Awards £500,000 Grant To Various Charities That Use Music Therapy To Treat Dementia

Music can be healing. The swelling notes and catchy melodies can pull at your heartstrings and change your emotions, while the lyrics make you feel understood and sometimes bring you back to another time in your life. The powerful properties of music have been noticed, typically focusing on how it can impact brain development and, therefore, intertwine with our children’s educations. However, some nonprofits and charitable organizations have been searching more and more for ways music can help our older populations too.

Photo: Facebook/Herts Musical Memories

A study conducted in May of 2020 focused on music therapy and its effectiveness in treating dementia. After a total of 8 studies and meta-analysis, researchers found that “the intervention with music improves cognitive function in people living with dementia, as well as quality of life after the intervention and long-term depression.” Though the analysis continues to emphasize that further clinical trials will need to be designed to test any long-term improvements to quality of life, the study suggests that music therapy can be a “powerful treatment strategy” for those living with dementia.

One of the many charities turning to music for memory care is Music for Dementia. This organization’s website highlights the fact that “music therapy reduces agitation and need for medication in 67% of people with dementia” as well as reduces depression levels by 40%. Music for Dementia’s goal is for “everyone living with dementia [to] have access to music as part of their care from diagnosis to end of life, whatever their age, social or economic status.” In order to help make this a reality, they’ve created the Paul and Nick Harvey Fund. This fund of £500,000 is spread across several charitable organizations that focus on music therapy as a tool help dementia patients and their caregivers.

Photo: Facebook/Herts Musical Memories

One of the 27 organizations that earned a part of the Paul & Nick Harvey Fund was Herts Musical Memories. The UK-based charity is “committed to providing stimulating music sessions where families can share happy and moving moments together.” What started as the continuation of the Singing for the Brain program originally provided by the Alzheimer’s Society, Herts Musical Memories was set to be discontinued due to changes in the Hertfordshire County Council funding. However, with the £25,000 earned from Music for Dementia, they will be able to continue their musical services.

Though the charity temporarily closed their ‘Musical Memory Sessions’ due to COVID-19 restrictions, they will now be using the grant money to develop an online session, while also preparing to reopen for person-to-person services. Prior to the pandemic, there were about 400 people, those living with dementia and their caregivers, who attended the weekly musical sessions regularly. Founder Kerry Brabant knows how difficult removing those consistent sessions must have been, saying, “The impact of the pandemic was devastating, talking to our clients was heartbreaking as they struggled to cope.”

Photo: Facebook/Herts Musical Memories

Music for Dementia has recognized this same struggle across the board for organizations who were providing musical services for dementia patients. Program director Grace Meadows said, “Musical services have been severely impacted in the last year, meaning many people living with dementia and their carers have lost those important connections and special moments that only music can provide. By directing the fund money towards community-based, musical services for people living with dementia and those that provide them, we are able to bring the joy of music into people’s lives wherever they are on their dementia journey.”

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