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Music’s power to ‘unlock memories and emotions’ helps in dementia treatment, survey suggests | UK News

The power of music to treat dementia has been further reinforced by a new survey.

In a collaboration between the charity Music for Dementia and the keyboard manufacturer Casio, more than 100 dementia patients were enrolled in six months of musical therapy.

Care homes were sent specialised keyboards that allowed residents to play along to their favourite songs in the presence of a musical therapist.

At the end of the six-month period, 79% of musical therapists reported their patients showed improved memory and recall, and more than 70% saw reductions in anxiety and depression.

The survey builds on a number of recent scientific studies, such as one published in the Lancet earlier this year.

It found that music had a clinically significant impact on reducing depression and other symptoms in care home residents suffering from dementia.

There are several reasons music may be an effective method of treatment.

Clare Barone, musical therapy lead at Methodist Homes, said: “From a therapeutic perspective, music can touch emotions, unlock memories, and the two go hand-in-hand really.

“So positive memories can just bring somebody alive, reminiscence, positive wellbeing, the engagement in something, a meaningful activity – like we saw with Jill – playing the keyboard actually brought back memories of her children and playing in the past and the importance of that song for her.”

Jill is an 82-year-old resident living with moderate-stage mixed dementia.

Over the course of her treatment, she saw a marked cognitive improvement, going from being able to recognise and whistle along to a familiar melody, to playing parts of it with the keyboard’s assistive technology.

During a demonstration for Sky News, Jill played much of the piece before admitting with a wry smile: “I don’t know how the hell I did that.”

Grace Meadows, campaign director at Music for Dementia, said: It’s innovative, creative initiatives like this which demonstrate how easy it can be for carers to make music a part of good dementia care.

“We would like to see this programme rolled out nationwide as a way of supporting carers to provide the best possible personalised care for those living with dementia.”

In April, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries backed a plan to create a “power of music commissioner” to promote the benefits of music in a variety of healthcare settings.

The political will, it appears, is there, if it can survive the imminent arrival of another new Conservative administration.

Sizewell C nuclear power plant given green light with £700m of government funding | Politics News

Boris Johnson has given the green light to the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, promising £700m of government funding for the project.

He confirmed the move during a speech from the site in one of his final acts as prime minister – and amid the rising cost of living crisis – saying he was “absolutely confident it will get over the line” in the next few weeks.

The government has previously said the £20bn power plant would take just under a decade to build and could power six million homes.

Mr Johnson is due to be replaced as prime minister next week when either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss is announced as his successor.

Politics live: Boris Johnson makes £700m promise as time in office draws to a close

In his speech, the PM praised the history of nuclear discoveries in the UK, but asked “what happened to us?” – claiming British nuclear energy was in “paralysis”.

He decried the “short termism” that he said led to no new nuclear power plants being built in the UK in nearly 30 years, while the likes of France had built four in the same timeframe.

And he criticised past leaders of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats – though not mentioning his own party’s time in office – saying it had been “a chronic case of politicians not being able to see beyond the political cycle” and choosing to invest.

Mr Johnson said his government’s British energy security strategy was “rectifying the chronic mistakes of the past and taking the long term decisions that it needs”, adding: “We need to pull our national finger out and get on with Sizewell C.

“This project will create tens of thousands of jobs, it will also power six million homes – that is roughly a fifth of all the homes in the UK – so it’ll help to fix the energy needs, not just of this generation but of the next.”

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that by taking a stake in Sizewell C, the government would give confidence to investors about the country’s commitment to new nuclear power stations.

The newspaper also said French state-owned EDF, the project developer, is set to take stake too as part of efforts to remove a Chinese state-backed nuclear energy company from the project.

But campaign group Stop Sizewell said the power station was a “vanity project” for the PM that his successor should “consign to the bin”.

They added: “When every penny matters, it’s totally wrong to shackle the next prime minister and billions in taxpayers’ money to this damaging project, whose ballooning cost, lengthy construction, failure-prone technology and long term water supply are so uncertain.”

Mr Johnson said there was “no cultural aversion to nuclear power” in the UK, and the campaign group – who protested outside the site ahead of his speech – we an example of “pure nimbyism”.

He added: “A baby born this year will be getting energy from Sizewell C long after she retires and this new reactor is just a part of our Great British nuclear campaign.”