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Power of Music & Dementia

More than 800,000 people in the UK live with dementia, with many more mis-or un-diagnosed. In 2013, approximately 44.4 million living with dementia worldwide. This is estimated to increase to 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. With an ageing population and no cure, it has been identified as one of the most significant health challenges facing the UK.

Although momentum is gaining with the Prime Minister's 2020 challenge on Dementia, for example -dementia care and research has been woefully underfunded and services are disjointed throughout the country. The UK’s National Dementia Strategy has prompted the reduction of medication nationwide within UK care settings and highlights the importance of non-pharmacological interventions.

Music has been shown to be an appealing alternative to anti-psychotic medications. Evidence demonstrates that music stimulates the part of the brain that is unaffected by dementia, hence helping patients to access the areas that are effected -speech and memory. Therapeutically beneficial music could, with greater funding, awareness and guidance, be made accessible to all as a safe treatment option for people living with dementia.

We are a long way from this point, however. More awareness, empirically validated research, examples, and demonstrations are needed of musical interventions and how they can be best accessed and delivered by carers both home and residential settings. The Utley Foundation is developing partnerships to generate widespread access to music for people living with dementia in 2016 and beyond.

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