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The European voice for informal carers

Animated videos for informal carers about how to use music with older people with dementia

Dementia, a syndrome that affects millions of people worldwide, puts a strain not only on the older people affected, but also on their carers and dementia care professionals.

People with a progressive brain disease may experience difficulties with remembering things, thinking, communicating with others, and taking care of themselves. Moreover, they often experience mood swings, aggressiveness, apathy, or even changes in personality and behaviour. Their carers might experience the burden of carer, defined as “the extent to which the carer’s physical and psychological health, social life and socio-economic status enter a state of distress as a result of care activities”. Also dementia care professionals are at risk to develop work related stress.

The power of music for the overall population but also and very effectively on people with dementia and their carers is well known among researchers. Listening to music, playing music or singing improves mood and quality of life and increases well-being; promotes communication and connection and improves the relationship among OPD and their carers, especially when verbal communication fails; therefore, it can also lighten the carer burden and stress.

The most commonly observed effects of music are its ability to evoke feelings of happiness and positivity, to reduce stress, anxiety and agitation, to promote relaxation, to improve attention, concentration, speech fluency, coordination and memory.

Active and passive music activities are also the key element and strength of the SOUND project, a European initiative funded by the Erasmus Plus programme (ERASMUS+ n° 2021-1-IT-02-KA220-ADU-000033494), led by IRCCS INRCA Ancona and involving four European countries (Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Romania), that aims to revolutionise the approach to dementia through the powerful therapy of music.

Together with older people with dementia, informal carers and dementia care professionals, the project designed a training curriculum and implemented it in a course for dementia care workers and implemented a non-pharmacological intervention based on melodic, rhythmic and listening exercises that was tested with 45 elderly people with dementia and as many dementia care professionals.

In order to improve informal (but also formal) carers’ knowledge and ability to use music in the daily care of people with mild-moderate dementia in their daily lives, SOUND consortium also developed 5 animated video lessons in 4 language (English, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese), available in the Sound website at, titled as follows:

  1. Music and communication
  2. Carer burden
  3. Music and behaviour
  4. The Impact of music on mood
  5. Carer’s wellbeing

Watching and listening to these videos, carers are guided through the discovery of the ways the universal language of music can help express emotions, improving well-being, reducing agitation or anxiety, manage difficult moments with their loved ones.

Some practical tips are given, how to engage in musical activities that can help make them feel better and alleviate their fatigue. like:

  • try to listen to favourite music with (or without) your loved one with dementia at least 30 minutes a day;
  • sing with your loved one with dementia their favourite songs once a day or use music for fun and play karaoke at least twice a week;
  • dance with your loved one at least five minutes a day to a song that may be enjoyable for you;
  • learn to play an instrument or sing to improve mood and memory, also using home-made instruments like cymbals or tambourines;
  • try playing a song with your loved one to manage moments of aggression, apathy, fear, sadness and to defuse some compulsive or repetitive dementia-related behaviour;
  • play rhythmic and meaningful songs when you feel sad and slow music when you need to rest and relax;
  • ask young members of your family, if any, to play music they like and listen to it and comment on it with them.

SOUND is more than a project: it is a symphony of care, inclusion and change.

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