Dementia Care and Music Made in the Great Outdoors
Dementia Action Week 17-23 May
This is Dementia Awareness Week - an event that encourages people to take action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia, and many forward-thinking and progressive senior communities are doing just that through the power of music made in the great outdoors.
Over recent years we have seen a growing trend for dementia-friendly gardens in Care and Senior Living settings. The uplifting power of gardens and nature has never been in doubt – however, the benefits of music-making outdoors have now been explored and expanded to create permanent music gardens, courtyards, and parks. Worldwide, inspiring dementia-friendly outdoor spaces that entice residents, visitors, and staff outside into the fresh air to enjoy some musical fun together are being designed - and they’re having a big impact on the health and quality of life of residents living with Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia.
Involvement in participatory arts and music programs has been shown to positively affect mental health, physical health, and social functioning in older adults, regardless of their ability. Music is not just for entertainment and pleasure but is also medicine for the body and soul. It is intrinsic to all cultures and playing music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. Providing musical activities outdoors is a wonderful idea to be borne in mind when designing such areas and to hopefully encourage more outdoor living and greater physical activity.
“We feel strongly that abundant health benefits can be achieved by older adults who learn to make music in a supportive, socially enjoyable setting. We are just beginning to understand the positive effects of making music on our bodies and our physical health.” - Dr. Frederick Tims, principal investigator for the Music Making and Wellness Research Project and Professor and Chair of Music Therapy at Michigan State University