You’ve Got a Friend in Me, Music and Dementia

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Dementia care

The Impact of Music on Dementia

The number of people being diagnosed with dementia around the globe is snowballing. By 2021, nearly one million people will be living with dementia in the UK, making it the number one health and social care challenge of the 21st century. So where is the link between music and dementia?

We all have our favorite songs. The ones that make us want to get up and dance or maybe sing aloud. Music can transport us back to moments in our past, trigger powerful emotions, feelings, and memories. When Simon McDermott made a video with his 80-year-old father Ted, showing them singing together in the car, it became a massive hit on the internet. It’s all the more amazing because Ted has Alzheimer’s and struggles to remember his son’s name. The music helps them to connect with one another in the present. And now Ted’s amazing voice has now been recognised with an amazing record deal.

But how do those with dementia still remember songs from their youth when they can’t remember a loved one’s name? Music reaches parts of the brain other attempts at communication cannot. Professor Paul Robertson explained we are exposed to sound and music before anything else in our early lives. It’s a case of first in last out and that’s why even with advanced dementia, our ability to remember songs and music rarely diminishes.

Although music is not a cure for dementia, it can have a positive impact on emotions. It has also been shown to have beneficial effects in terms of social and cognitive skills. These can last long after the music has finished. NHS England is keen to promote “social prescribing”- this basically means a face to face meeting with a support worker who can help you identify suitable local groups and services like dementia music groups. Ask your GP for further details.

If you live in or around Leeds we have put together a list of dementia friendly music groups you can contact to see If they have available space.

CareBIG has carers experienced with dementia. Visit this page

North Leeds

Happy Singalong Group Friends Meeting House, 136 Street Lane, Roundhay, Leeds, LS8 2BW 0113 8873595 at Royal Voluntary Service. Aimed at over 65s.

Chapel Allerton Good Neighbours Singing for the Brain Group Inkwell Arts (Shoulder of Mutton), 31 Potternewton Lane, Leeds, LS7 3LW. 0113 8873596.

Tea Cosy Café/Singing Group Lidgett Lane Community Centre, Lidgett Lane, Leeds, LS17 6QP 0113 237 0506 or 07464 837370 Email:

MAECare’s Singing Group Moor Allerton Elderly Care, Activity Room, 57a Cranmer Bank, Leeds, LS17 5JD 0113 2660371.

Sing Yourself Happy The Venue @ the MAZCC, (Eldon Suite) 311 Stonegate Road, Leeds, LS17 6AZ 0113 2185857.

Otley—Singing for the Brain Otley Courthouse Arts Centre, Courthouse Street, Otley, LS21 3AN. 01943 467466.

Giving Voice Mill Hill Chapel, City Square, Leeds, LS1 5EB 07944 699 313 or

Remini-Sing Central Methodist Church, Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 4AP 0113 2591511.

East Leeds

Sandwich and a Song Station Road, Crossgates, Leeds, LS15 7JY 0113 2606565.

Singing for Fun Halton Moor and Osmondthorpe Project for Elders,(H.O.P.E.) 8a Coronation Parade, Halton Moor, Leeds, LS15 0AY 0113 249 3597 or 07946 160047.

South Leeds

Singing Sensations Woodhouse Hill Community Centre, Hunslet, Leeds, LS11 8AG 0113 2716201.

West Leeds

Remember Thursdays—Singing for the Brain Bramley Lawn, Off Rossefield Lawn, Rossefield Approach, Bramley, Leeds, LS13 3RU 0113 2361644.

Pudsey—Singing for the Brain Community Hall, Pudsey Wellbeing Centre, Robin Lane, Pudsey, LS28 7DE. 0113 2556252/0113 395 5831.

Rawdon Community Library Singalongs Rawdon Community Library, Micklefield Park, Rawdon, Leeds, LS19 6DD 0113 391 0440.