Music is making a big difference in aged care

May 18, 2016

In January, we brought you the heart-warming story of a US retirement home bringing elderly residents and music students together to live under one roof. As it turns out, this may not be such a strange idea after all. Research has shown that music has the ability to ease anxiety, stabilise behaviour fluctuations, increase socialisation, and improve cognitive skills and mood.

A new 24-hour Australian radio station, Silver Memories, was launched last year and has been making a difference in residents of aged care facilities ever since. Specialising in nostalgic music from the 1920s to the 1950s, the station is being used as a research tool by Australian scientists who are studying the effect of music on symptoms of dementia and other age-related cognitive illnesses.

The station has a playlist specifically made for evening hours when patients are winding down for the day, with each song capped at the same calming resting heat rate of 60 beats per minute. As of February, there were 60 facilities tuning in.

WWII veteran Sam Houselander told Courier Mail that the music comforts him and reminds him of his time on duty in the South Pacific. “(The station) goes all day and all night. If I wake up early in the morning, it’s there.”

Silver Memories’ founder, Gary Thorpe was inspired to create the station after reading research papers which showed a positive link between music and dementia sufferers. “It turns out that music is a very, very powerful tool for managing physical and verbal agitation,” he said.



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