Sentimental audio memories for dementia care

Memory loss is a defining characteristic of dementia which affects about 850,000 people in the UK. This project explores a novel approach to supporting autobiographical memory through sounds having personal sentimental value to the listener.

Numerous studies have shown the beneficial effect of music therapy on people with dementia, for reducing anxiety, increasing wellbeing and stimulating memories. In this project we aim to explore the role of sentimental sound recordings in dementia care for producing similar effects. Working with families and people with dementia we will discuss the role of sound in emotion and memory, before assembling customised sound collections for playback and discussion. The Sentimental Audio Memories system from the Making Sense of Sounds project will be used in some of these discussions as a possible platform for future support of sound recordings in dementia care. A range of new design requirements and solutions will be generated as an output of the project.

The project is funded by award number EP/N014111/1 from the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account at a cost of £24,833. It will run for 6 months from 7 January 2018. The company partner is Unforgettable, who make products for people with dementia: The project will be led by David Frohlich from the University of Surrey in collaboration with Adam Vaughan from Unforgettable. Norman Alm from the University of Dundee will be an advisor to the project on the design and testing of materials for reminiscence therapy.

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