Cyrus Meurant - Monday To Friday CD

Cyrus Meurant - Monday To Friday CD

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Meurant, a softly-spoken 34-year-old with neat hair and red striped socks, composed four musical pieces for each weekday, featuring piano, flute, viola and vibraphone.

He crafted his compositions to match the typical moods of people with dementia at different times of the day: music in the morning to stir them; in the afternoon, when many residents feel agitated, music to offer comfort; something lyrically robust over dinner; and softer and ambient music overnight.

"It often gets their attention and can bring clarity to their mind," he says. "They can listen to the music and it can bring them joy."

A 2015 British study of dementia patients in care homes showed music therapy improved their symptoms and wellbeing, including communication, memory, agitation, apathy and anxiety.

Macquarie University clinical neuropsychologist Amee Baird, who is researching the effects of music in dementia care, says music activates those parts of the brain that control movement, emotions and memories in people with Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia.

Studies show the regions of the brain normally involved in musical memory are strikingly well preserved in Alzheimer's patients. Listening to music or participating in musical activities can reduce symptoms such as memory loss, depression and anxiety, Baird says. Music can also alter physiological responses, such as the heart rate and breathing.

"Music is uniquely effective in bringing to mind personal memories and associations," she says. "Music creates a link to a person's past. It is also a way of non-verbal communication, people will suddenly start hearing a song and connect with someone."