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Choir singing strengthens relationships for Alzheimer's patients

Choir singing strengthens relationships for Alzheimer's patients

Joining a choir could help people suffering from Alzheimer's disease by strengthening their relationships with loved ones, a study has found.

New research suggests singing as part of a group helps increase a sense of togetherness between someone battling the disease and their partner as it allows them to be equals; an aspect often lost when one person looks after another. Along with this, Alzheimer's patients who joined a choir also saw their confidence levels rise and felt a new sense of identity "beyond their diagnosis", researchers noted.

Seventeen couples were interviewed as part of the experiment, and it was found that the pleasure of singing had a positive impact on their relationship, as well as expanding their social network. Partners who were full-time carers also noted feeling liberated from their duties when performing with a choir, as they were able to temporarily escape their everyday life.

The couples who opted to learn new material rather than belting out renditions of their favourite songs were found to benefit the most from being a part of group singing. Researchers explained to the British Physiological Society in London that this could change the method of dementia care, which often focuses on reminiscing rather than learning new things.

"Singing groups can provide couples with an opportunity to take part in an activity on an equal basis; something which can be difficult when one partner is the lead carer in outside life," lead author Shreena Unadkat, from the Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University, said.

"Additionally, couples who learnt or performed new materials reported the greatest benefits, which is interesting considering many dementia therapies are based on reminiscence.

"This understanding may have implications for psychological therapists’ involvement in dementia care."

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