MUSIC has often been shown to have a dramatic effect on people living with dementia, unlocking memories and reaching parts of the damaged brain in ways that other forms of communication cannot.
Live Music Now, a national charity working with groups who might not usually be able to access high quality live music, has recently been awarded a grant of nearly £10,000 from the National Lottery to bring professional musicians to perform at Memory Cafes in Totnes, Dartmouth, Crediton, Kingsbridge, Bovey Tracey and Colyford and also to Dementia Hubs in partnership with The Ness Care Group.
The Musical Memory Café project by Live Music Now South West has been running since 2018 starting in partnership with Totnes Caring.
Since then, it has expanded across the county with new partners and moving to online concerts during the covid pandemic.
The audiences, which include carers as well as people living with dementia, have been able to listen to a wide range of music, from folk to classical to popular, and to join in through singing, playing percussion instruments, dancing and even conducting.
The impact on the groups has been profound, as Nick Hindmarsh of Dartmouth Caring described: "From the expressions on people’s faces, the levels of engagement, often from people who are otherwise very slow to react and from the feedback, we know that these concerts make people feel much happier and very valued.
"Music is a powerful tool for engaging with people living with dementia and this is very evident in our Live Music Now concerts."
Jade Barlow at The Ness Care Group said: "When the musicians attend to perform a live concert, all our clients will participate. Whether that is singing, clapping, or dancing, they are always engaged.
"To be able to hold an intimate concert for our members allows them to feel alive, to feel valued and appreciated.
"Most of our clients are unable to attend events such as shows / concerts, to have Live Music Now bring it to us is something we are extremely grateful for."
Anyone with concerns about their memory or who is living with dementia, or caring for someone who is, can find more details through the links: www.totnescaring.org.uk , www.dartmouthcaring.co.uk , www.alzheimers.org.uk/find-support-near-you or: www.livemusicnow.org.uk .