Casio Music UK study reveals benefits of playing instruments for people living with dementia

Casio Music UK study reveals benefits of playing instruments for people living with dementia

A new study – Light Up My Life – has reinforced research that shows how beneficial music can be to people living with dementia, revealing that care home residents living with the disease displayed signs of memory recall after playing the keyboard.

The research, by Casio Music UK, one of the world’s most renowned producers of electronic keyboards and digital pianos, in partnership with Music For Dementia and charitable care provider Methodist Homes (MHA), placed keyboards in homes for residents to use as part of its Light Up My Life research initiative.

The research project took place in some of MHA’s specialist dementia care homes nationwide over a six-month period. Casio provided lighting key keyboards to care homes to use in music therapy and music activity sessions that engaged over 100 residents living with dementia, to improve music participation.

The sessions that took place were a mix of one-to-one sessions and group sessions, dependent on the structure of the care home. The key lighting technology meant that participants were able to simply follow the lights on the keyboard, which would guide them to the correct notes without any prior musical knowledge or previous piano playing experience. A range of well-known pieces of music were preloaded into the keyboards for residents to enjoy. This unique key lighting technology was fundamental to the overall core element of the campaign.

Residents displayed improved signs of memory recall after playing the keyboard and producing a recognisable song – a statement that was supported by 79% of music therapists and 64% of care home staff. In addition, 95% of music therapists and 71% of care home staff were in agreement that playing the keyboard increased or enhanced opportunities for social interaction for the residents with staff and relatives.

The Light Up My Life campaign follows on from the release of the Power of Music Report, co-authored by Music for Dementia and UK Music, earlier this year which sets out a framework for how we can harness the power of music to support health and wellbeing, particularly for those living with dementia.

Over 70% of music therapists saw a reduction in anxiety and depression amongst the residents, further supporting the evidence base that music therapy reduces the need for medication in 67% of people living with dementia. Care home staff who spend the most time with the residents reported a notable increase in the residents’ sense of fulfilment and achievement, as well as noting significant improvement in other areas such as calmness, agitation, confidence and willingness to participate in these music therapy or music activity sessions.

Over 70% of music therapists saw a reduction in anxiety and depression amongst the residents

Furthermore, 95% of the residents who participated reported that they were elated or felt happy after completing a song on the keyboard – a statement backed up by 86% of music therapists. 

Neil Evans, head of Casio EMI, commented: “We are pleased to announce the results of this important research project and proud to see how our keyboards have played a vital role in providing access to music therapy for care home residents living with dementia. We're passionate about the role of music in care and hopeful that the research and learnings we are revealing today can be used as a springboard to accelerate and improve the accessibility of music and music therapy for those living with dementia and those who care for them, across the nation and worldwide. It’s clearly evident that the power of music can significantly enrich the quality of life for those living with dementia and their carers.”

We're passionate about the role of music in care

Neil Evans, Casio

Grace Meadows, campaign director at Music for Dementia, added: "When Casio first approached us, we were thrilled with their passion to get involved with the work we are doing at Music for Dementia to raise awareness of the importance of music as an integral part of care for those living with dementia. The incredible results from the Light Up My Life report really speak for themselves and further cements previous research on the unlimited power that music has to enhance the lives of those living with dementia and beyond. It's innovative, creative initiatives such as Light Up My Life which demonstrate how easy it can be for carers to make music a part of good dementia care. We would like to see this programme rolled out nationwide as a way of supporting carers to provide the best possible personalised care for those living with dementia."

Dr Ming Hung Hsu, senior research fellow at ARU, said: “Whilst working at MHA I was truly delighted to have been involved in this exciting project with Casio right from the very beginning. The value of this innovative partnership was clear from the start and I was excited to bring MHA on board. Although I am now in a new job role with Anglia Ruskin University, I continue to champion the Light Up My Life vision.”

Clare Barone, music therapy lead at MHA, added: “We know from our work at MHA how important music is to the wellbeing of people living with dementia and this research with Casio and Music for Dementia has reinforced that. What we now need is for others caring for people with dementia to embrace tools such as the Casio light up key keyboards to give more people the best life possible.”

To read the full report, click here.

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