Project gifts people with dementia a song

The personalised music-based intervention has been developed by Neuroscience Research Australia and the Talent Development Project.

An industry-first partnership has produced music inspired by the life stories of people with dementia.

The music-based intervention has been developed by not-for-profit independent medical research body Neuroscience Research Australia and creative development program the Talent Development Project. The initiative – Music and Memories – connects people living with dementia with young singer-songwriters who compose original songs based on the participants’ lives.

Dr Craig Sinclair

“Exposure to music alone is understood to have therapeutic benefits, but it’s also believed music provides a scaffold for the cognitive processes that establish memories,” said Dr Craig Sinclair – senior research fellow at NeuRA and UNSW. “By partnering with TDP, we’re building tempo on the powerful relationship between music and memories and giving people with dementia and their families a unique gift through song.”

Through interviews with people living with various stages of dementia, Jordyn, Sam and Jade – musicians from TDP’s graduate THRIVE program – were able to draw out their life stories.

Peter Cousens

“With time a burdensome factor in dementia diagnosis, giving NeuRA participants space to recount their life stories with our artists, and allowing their experience to be recorded in song before the disease progresses, we hope will be a special experience for the participant and a treasured gift to the family,” said TDP artistic director Peter Cousens.

The collaboration also benefits the songwriters by providing them with a meaningful focus for their creativity, said Mr Cousens. “Our highly talented musicians know how to develop their art, but it’s a new challenge to craft a piece that taps into the essence of someone else’s life and memories. The positive impact this can offer people with cognitive impairment, and the comforting effect on their families, is giving Jordyn, Sam and Jade true meaning and purpose in what they do.”

Last month, the TDP musicians performed their songs and gifted them to participants May, John and Ann, and their families. The songs will eventually be available to stream on all music platforms.

Currently in Australia, more than 421,000 people live with dementia. Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts this number could double by 2054.

“With Australia on the precipice of a significant rise in dementia rates, the development of interventions and therapeutic approaches through medical research is more important than ever,” Dr Sinclair said.

Watch the Music and Memories program unfold below:

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Tags: Dr Craig Sinclair, Music and Memories, neuroscience research australia, Peter Cousens, Talent Development Project,

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