The UK is hosting a G8 summit on dementia in London on 11 December. The summit aims to develop co-ordinated global action on dementia.
Live Music Now's Strategic Director for Wellbeing, Douglas Noble, weighs in on the G8 Dementia Summit's question: Which areas of dementia research would most benefit from international collaboration?
There is an exciting opportunity to further the application of the arts, and in particular music, as a means of enhancing the well-being, quality of life and potential for meaningful communication, self-expression and engagement of people living with dementia. I am pleased to provide this response on behalf of Live Music Now, one of the UK's leading arts and wellbeing organizations, specialising in music and dementia projects for over 36 years
The UK is leading the way in arts and health. There is a growing body of evidence that taking part in arts activities, and in particular music and singing, can offer a range of benefits for older people, including those living with dementia. Developments in this area are opening up new potential for enhancing wellbeing, quality of life and offering new means of self-expression, engagement and communication, for people whose cognitive deterioration is robbing them of the ability to recall and use language and meaning of spoken word
In Singing and People with Dementia (Sept. 2012) the Sydney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health concluded that
"as a creative and social activity, singing regularly in a social environment could support the wellbeing of people living with dementia and the people closest to them by helping them to explore the way in which they deal with life changes."
A recent study by the Sydney De Haan Centre, involving a two-year research study with a RCT, established that singing can improve the health of older people, especially when they are involved in community singing programmes, and can be as cost effective as a health promotion strategy.
Reawakening the Mind, the evaluation of the Arts4 Dementia London Arts Challenge, a series of arts interventions with people in the early stages of dementia and their carers, found that participation in music activities enhanced cognitive function in people in early stages of dementia for a week or more for 80% of those tested.
Live Music Now works across the UK, providing high quality live music experiences by emerging professional musicians to over 100,000 people each year, which includes a focus on delivering programmes of live music activities for older people, including those living with dementia
· Provides high-quality participatory live music workshops and performances in the community and in care homes for older people, improving wellbeing of beneficiaries;
· Provides regular social interaction through high-quality live music sessions for people isolated and lonely due to age or disability; and
· Uses live music as a stimulation for memories, conversation and social interactio,n in particular between older people and their carers;
We will be working with academic and care home partners over the coming year to develop and contribute to the wider body of knowledge and understanding, exploring how what we do can integrate with the care regimes, and support the development of practice and skills in carers.
The cross sector knowledge and expertise in the UK, bringing in the arts health and academia, offers a great opportunity to be taken up and developed internationally, and there are forums such as the National Alliance for Arts Health and Wellbeing that could take a leading role in developing links and projects and disseminating findings. Live Music Now would be delighted to help with this work internationally, and promote the UK's achievements in arts and health, taking advantage of our existing international connections.