As dementia develops over time, different parts of the brain are affected and so will different aspects of a person’s life and abilities. Common areas that may become difficult include memory, someone’s sense of time and space, language and communication.
Playlist for Life is a music and dementia charity. It was founded in 2013 by writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson. Sally wrote her best-selling memoir after her mother, who was living with dementia, passed away. Whilst researching for the book she learned that there is power in music and its ability to stimulate many parts of the brain at once. This means that even if parts of the brain are damaged, music can still reach other parts.
In the course of her research Sally learned that this power of personal music is a recognised phenomenon backed up by decades of research but was still not widely shared with families in the UK. Playlist for Life’s vision is simple: they want everyone with dementia to have a unique, personal playlist and everyone who loves or cares for them to know how to use it.
Many scientific studies and research have delved into the evidence of the arts benefitting our health and improving the lives of those living with neurological conditions. The World Health Organisation conducted a major study in September 2019 looking at this. A section on dementia found evidence of multiple benefits including the reduction of anxiety and depression, supporting cognition, speech and memory. Evidence also showed that these benefits meant that there was a reduction in the need for antipsychotic drugs and fewer and shorter stays in the hospital.
Playlist for Life harnesses the powerful effects of personal music to help anyone who is affected by dementia, their families and carers. Whether it’s the music from a first dance, lullabies from childhood or a theme tune from a favourite TV show, music can take us back in time and remind us of our past, giving you that flashback feeling.
Living with dementia can have a big emotional, social, psychological and practical impact on a person. Sharing your songs and memories can help people living with dementia connect with family, friends and carers. Start your loved ones’ playlist today.