Musical Initiative Could Benefit Patients With Dementia at Home

Families across Forth Valley caring for a relative or friend living with dementia are being encouraged to try out a music initiative at home.

The Playlist for Life project sees people living with dementia create a playlist of music which has been meaningful in their life. This could be songs from a wedding, a 21st birthday, a TV theme or a favourite song from their school or teen years. The songs can then be loaded onto an iPod for them to listen to although they could also simply be stored on a CD or listened to online.

The project has mainly been used in care homes and hospitals, but local staff in NHS Forth Valley are keen to encourage families to try it at home as research has shown it can help alleviate dementia symptoms such as anxiety and agitation, reducing the need for medication as well as helping people to reconnect with those around them.

It’s also been shown that if people living with dementia are offered frequent access to music linked to their experiences and memories, it can:

  • Improve their present mood.
  • Improve their awareness.
  • Improve their ability to understand and think.
  • Help their sense of identity and independence.

Yvonne Cairns, one of NHS Forth Valley’s Dementia Champions, said: “We are already using the Playlist for Life scheme in a number of our inpatient wards but we are aware that some people stop using it when they go home. We also know there are many more people in our local communities who could benefit from this scheme which is why we are keen to encourage more families to get involved.

“As a nurse working in older people’s care I have seen first-hand the impact that music can have on patients living with dementia. We have seen people who have previously been very withdrawn become animated and keen to talk about their memories.”

NHS Forth Valley’s Nurses Choir also plans to promote Playlist for Life at local events and performances to help raise awareness.

Andy Lowndes, Training Lead for the Playlist for Life Charity, said: “We start responding to music when we are still in the womb and this connection is one thing that dementia cannot destroy.

“We’re delighted that NHS Forth Valley is supporting Playlist for Life in its hospitals and helping to raise awareness of the initiative in local communities.”

Further information, including tips and guidance on how to create a Playlist for Life, is available on the national website