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BBC launches music website to aid dementia care

By | Published on Monday 1 October 2018


The BBC has launched a new website called BBC Music Memories which is designed to help trigger memories in people with dementia.

According to research, music has proven effective in helping people with dementia, reaching parts of a damaged brain that other forms of communication cannot. The new website is organised in order to make it easier to find relevant pieces of music, and invites users to share what they find that works.

“With BBC Music Memories featuring tracks from 1920 to 2017 there’s something for everyone”, explains the BBC’s Peter Rippon. “The site hopes to encourage inter-generational use so people of different ages can use the resource together to listen and talk about their own memorable music and the thoughts it triggers. And through users making and sharing their own playlists we aim to build a shared database to create a unique resource to help others with dementia”.

Tim McLachlan of the Alzheimer’s Society adds: “It’s exciting that the BBC are launching BBC Music Memories. From talking to people with dementia we know the positive effect music can have, helping people at all points on their dementia journey, which is why our many support services include Singing For The Brain groups”

“In latter stages”, he goes on, “some people who may no longer be able to communicate much or at all through language can be transformed when they hear a song they recognise – joining in singing and/or dancing along. This is going to be a fantastic online tool to trigger music memories for those with dementia”.

The launch of the service is being fronted by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, whose father’s diagnosis of dementia was the inspiration for the song ‘Soon’.

Lightbody says: “Music changed my life. It’s been my whole life. I started the band when I was eighteen so for my whole adult life music has been both my passion and my job. It is the most powerful international language. It can break you and mend you sometimes in the span of a single song. My dad has dementia and anything that throws a light on the disease and helps in any way to reconnect people with their lost memories is something I want to be involved in”.

The website contains 1800 clips of music, including popular songs, TV and radio themes, and the most popular classical pieces from 20 composers. Pop music can also be explored by decade, and users are able to save playlists of the music that proves most effective in triggering memories.

View the Music Memories website here.