In an experiment run by consultancy 20/20 Research & Spirit of Creation (they aim to improve public services) people with dementia responded to music which had no connection with their lives in a positive way.
The care home residents in the UK were exposed to a live performance, followed by mp3 recordings, followed by a range of other music.
75% responded immediately the live performance, smiling and humming along. Afterwards they were observed at 2 and 4 week intervals. For the majority communication skills were better after two weeks although this did not last over longer periods.
However memory improved in both the short and long term with residents able to recall where they were, the time of dat, and people’s names – one of the most stressful things of them.
They could also recall recent and past events better and seemed less frustrated in how long it took them to perform everyday tasks.
The consultancy’s MD said “Music is very closely bound up with emotions and has the power to reach down into people’s memory and let them reconnect with the person they were before they became unwell”
See also: The Power of Music