BBC Radio 6 DJ Lauren Laverne has been announced as the ambassador for Music for Dementia 2020, a new campaign to help make music widely accessible for people with the disease, by 2020.
41-year-old Lauren - who has worked in music for years - explained to W&H that the initiative's aim is to bring together the public, the music industry, health organisations and politicians, to help everyone going through the dementia journey - whether they are a carer, or have it themselves - benefit from music.
The campaign is also urging streaming services to get on board, to make music free for those living with dementia.
She explained, "Music should be made free for everyone living with dementia.
"I’ve seen the way music can change people’s lives. This is my industry, and this is a thing that this industry can do to help the people who created it; you know, people who grew up in the 60s, and bought records and then CDs."
"This is a generation who paid their music taxes, and made the music industry what it is today. We'd love to see streaming services make music free for everyone living with dementia."
Explaining her own connection with music, she said, “I can’t imagine my life without music.
"And we all instinctively know how important music is, and how beneficial it is for our wellbeing. It connects us to others, to our memories and boosts our mood."
But Lauren explained that music can provide proven benefit to those with dementia in particular. She told us, "We know music has this deep effect on us. But there was this research, done by a parlimentary group, that showed that for 67% of people with dementia music reduces irritability and the need for medication."
Lauren also shared that she has a personal connection to the benefits of music - revealing that it helped her dad and her family massively during his long illness, before his death last year.
The presented said, "My dad was ill, and we were in an extremely stressful situation. And just putting some music on, it can be massively helpful. There were very difficult times, dark days.
"There are real, cognitive emotional health benefits to these sorts of things. And coming out of that experience with my dad, I saw how beneficial it was to him and how much it helped him to maintain his identity."
"After he died I thought it would be a great thing to try and help other family’s benefit in that way – and it was about a week later that I was approached about this campaign. So it was good timing."
And the campaign isn't only being backed by big names from the music industry.
Politicians are also getting involved, with the Music for Dementia 2020 campaign also being backed by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP.
He said, “Dementia can have a devastating impact on people’s lives but music has been scientifically proven to bring calm, reduce agitation and support those affected to cope better with symptoms.
“I back Music for Dementia 2020, which offers a great opportunity for people with dementia, their families and carers to access music and get good value, easy-to-use social prescription that I fully endorse."
So how can you get involved? If you are living with dementia, or are caring for something with dementia, you can visit the musicfordementia2020.com (opens in new tab) website, which offers a range of tips and advice for incorporating music into your life.
Already, both dementia and music organisations are getting on board to help - so we reckon it won't be long before this campaign is really making a difference in people's lives.
Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.
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