Singing study to support dementia sufferers

UNITING AgeWell is on the lookout for Hobart locals to be involved in a new study investigating the therapeutic benefits of singing groups.

Led by the University of Melbourne, the “Remini-Sing” study will allow people with dementia living at home, as well as their family members or carers, to join a supportive singing group.

During the 20-week study, which commences in March, the Remini-Sing group will meet weekly to sing old favourites, new songs and learn how to use music at home.

The research model was piloted at Austin Health in 2017, with preliminary results indicating great benefits for both the people with dementia and their family members or carers.

University of Melbourne research fellow Dr Jeanette Tamplin, who is leading the study, said the most surprising thing about the pilot study was the great benefits for carers.

“The preliminary aim of the pilot was to support people living with dementia in the community, but we underestimated how powerful it would be for the carers,” she said.

“The carers of people with dementia all commented on the inclusiveness of the group and the fact that they felt so supported and understood.

“They got so much joy out of doing something together with their partner/mother/father or whoever they were there with.”

Uniting AgeWell is seeking participants aged 60-years and older who have been diagnosed with dementia, as well as their family member or carer.

Once selected, participants will be randomly assigned to either a Remini-Sing group or the waitlisted control group, with the control group receiving music intervention after the study, if they wish.

Health and wellbeing assessments will be completed with each participant prior to the beginning of the study and in week 10 and 20 to measure the benefits of the group.

Uniting AgeWell special projects manager Carol Fountain said she expected the group to provide an avenue for older people and their carers or family members to form stronger bonds.

“This is something that the carer or family member and the person with dementia can experience together,” she said.

“When people living with dementia come to a day centre for respite, quite often they don’t have the capacity to share what happened on their day out.

“This program allows the carer or family member to share something meaningful and introduce music they enjoy to each other, as well as the rest of the group.”

The venue for the singing group is yet to be confirmed.

For more information or to get involved, contact Uniting AgeWell special projects manager Carol Fountain on phone (03) 9251 5997 or email cfountain@unitingagewell.org.

Caption: The Remini-sing study will investigate the therapeutic benefits of singing groups on people with dementia and their carers/family members.