Music Therapy in Dementia Care

Belltree Music therapists work in residential care and day centres with older adults with dementia. Many adults with dementia face difficulties due to cognitive impairment, which impacts upon their communication skills, relationships and their sense of self. Other concerns include increased social isolation and behaviours linked to anxiety and frustration around communication such as agitation, wandering and restlessness. As musical memory remains mostly intact for dementia clients, it can serve as a bridge enabling social contact, creativity and expression.

Music therapy can be offered on an individual or group basis, according to specific needs. Sessions ideally take place weekly for an agreed period of time.

Individual sessions

Individual sessions are helpful for clients who are more isolated and who struggle to engage in groups. Sessions aim to enable the client to form a trusting relationship with the therapist where through the use of improvised and pre-composed music their difficulties can be better understood. Sessions offer clients a safe and supportive space, which can adapt to meet the client’s changing needs from week to week.

Group sessions

Group sessions may be more structured to offer some predictability to a larger group of clients with dementia. In a group the focus may be more upon social interaction and group dynamics. Group members can have a shared experience with others, and will often find ways to listen to, empathise with and support others. Through improvising with instruments and using their voice, group members can be offered a stimulating experience, which promotes the use of movement, creativity and playfulness.

Music therapists are used to working with the care team, and can attend meeting or offer reports for case reviews.