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Music and the wellbeing of people with dementia


While therapeutic interventions involving music have been shown to have benefits for people with dementia, little research has examined the role of music and music-related activities in their everyday lives. This paper presents the results of qualitative research that explored this role in terms of: the meaning and importance of music in everyday life; the benefits derived from participation in music-related activities; and the problems of engaging with music. Data were collected during in-depth interviews with 26 people with dementia and their carers, who lived either in their own homes or in residential care in different parts of England. The paper illustrates the many different ways in which people with dementia experience music. As well as being enjoyed in its own right, music can enable people to participate in activities that are enjoyable and personally meaningful. It is an important source of social cohesion and social contact, supports participation in various activities within and outside the household, and provides a degree of empowerment and control over their everyday situations. The practical implications for the provision of care and support for people with dementia are discussed. The scope and implications for technological development to promote access to music are also discussed.

Corresponding author
Division of Primary Care, University of Liverpool, Whelan Building, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
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