Music may bring back lost memories in dementia sufferers

September 23rd, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by ANI  

Wellington, Sept 23 (ANI): Music can prove to be a saviour for dementia patients, who have lost the ability to interact with their partner due to memory loss, according to Australian researchers.

Dr Felicity Baker, a senior lecturer from the University of Queensland (UQ) School of Music, said that dementia patients usually experience short-term memory loss, which proves to be a blow to their interaction with their partner, thus harming their relationship.

However, the research team has claimed that a song from their youth could stir memories they thought were lost forever, and get them talking again.

“Thousands of people care for partners with dementia and take on a lot of burden, which means they are more prone to anxiety and depression,” the NZPA quoted Baker, as saying.

She added: “But there’’s been some recent evidence that says it’’s actually the breakdown in the intimacy in the relationship that is the biggest cause of stress for them. That’’s because the person with dementia often has a demeanour where they don”t communicate much and they just sit there and they are quite passive.

“The idea of my project is. . . to tap into the memories of people with dementia as a way of sharing positive experiences and trying to maintain some level of satisfaction with the relationship.”

Now, Baker is hunting for 100 volunteer couples who will allow music therapists visit their homes over the next year to 18 months, so that she can show them how the use of old songs and dancing can help them strike up a conversation.

According to her, the therapy was not just about putting on a CD or an old vinyl record, but also teaching the spouse about what music to choose, how to interpret the responses of the dementia sufferer, what kind of questions to ask them and the conversations to initiate.

The new project will be conducted in the Brisbane area with Associate Professor Nancy Pachana from UQ’’s School of Psychology and Associate Professor Denise Grocke from The University of Melbourne. (ANI)

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