Singing can calm agitation suffered by around 90 per cent of people with dementia, a new NHS trial has found
- Around 90 per cent of the UK’s one million dementia patients experience agitation.
- Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University found that making music calms behavior
Singing songs and beating a drum can help address one of dementia’s most challenging symptoms, a groundbreaking NHS trial has found.
As well as memory problems and confusion, around 90 per cent of the 1 million dementia patients in the UK experience agitation, which includes episodes of yelling, pushing and spitting.
This is because the brain damage caused by the disease can make patients aggressive and prone to violent and destructive behavior.
But researchers at Anglia Ruskin University found that helping them create music and sing cut incidents of agitation by three-quarters.
Patients in two dementia wards in Cambridge and the Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust took part in weekly music therapy for 14 weeks, which involved singing familiar songs and playing percussion instruments.
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University found that helping dementia patients create music and sing reduced incidents of agitation by three-quarters.
The sessions were led by a trained dementia therapist, and the researchers found that agitation occurred on fewer than one in 10 days with music therapy, compared with one in three without.
Now the same Trust will launch a major pilot program to offer regular music therapy to dementia patients. The experts involved believe it could help reduce the number of dementia patients who have to take powerful sedative drugs to ease their distress.
“Soothing medications are often given to a person with dementia when they are distressed, but this is far from ideal, as research suggests that sedatives increase the risks of falls and death,” says Ming Hung Hsu, M.D. Principal Investigator at Anglia Ruskin University and Principal Investigator. of judgment
“These results provide us with a platform to explore ways to use music therapy to better meet the needs of patients in inpatient mental health dementia wards.”
About one in four NHS hospital beds are occupied by dementia patients, and studies show that distress or agitation events occur on dementia wards on average 120 days a year and can affect the treatment of patients and the well-being of the staff.
“Upheaval can be very distressing for patients, families and staff, and current interventions are limited,” says Dr Ben Underwood, director of research and development at the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
“All the initial evidence suggests that music could be a powerful and enjoyable tool. I am very excited to see this work progress.’