Music in Eldercare

Dementia, an incurable and fatal brain-damaging disease, is one of the worldwide problems to be conquered. According to the official data, there are 46.8 million people undergoing with dementia worldwide and more than 850,000 sufferers in the UK and among which, 50% to 70% are Alzheimer's disease (AD). Current pharmaco-therapies only have effects to control some of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia rather than the overall well-being of the patients. Besides the limited impact to help the sufferers and some possible side effects, the medications are also extremely costly. In this project we seek to develop and evaluate interventions based on individual music listening and explore the power of music to elicit autobiographical memories to help dementia sufferers to recall life experiences and regenerate the sense of empowerment. We also explore the ways in which these type of intervention can improve the care recipient-caregiver relationhips and reduce the burden of care. Our approach reflects the principle of the ‘person-centred' healthcare.

Work plan


Review of past studies

What was done in this area? How it was done? Do music listening interventions have a positive impact on the symoms of dementia and the quality of life of people living with this condition? 


Development of a systematic approach

We will develop theoretical and practical methods for the generation of patient-specific playlists and intervention delivery strategies.  



We will conduct an empirical study whereby people with dementia regularly listen to costumised music playlists over a period of time and observe the impact of the intervention on patients’ symptms of dementia and quality of life and burden of care. 

Xiaoxiao Hou

Ph.D. Candidate

Supervisory team

Dr Eduardo Coutinho
Dr Helen Brooks
Dr Warren Donnellan

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