THE need is growing for more imaginative ways to help dementia sufferers and their families cope with the cruel reality of memory loss and lessened quality of life.

Care homes are getting better at engaging dementia residents in meaningful activities, and Alzheimer’s awareness charities are building greater awareness of the condition, which leads to a better understanding by all and thus helping family members to cope.

Dementia Friendly is term which is becoming more common too, with groups of children learning about dementia, and there is even a push to make Northallerton the first Dementia Friendly town in the region, enabling a safer environment for sufferers to go out and about as they wish.

Singing for the Brain is a popular community group which takes place across Hambleton and Richmondshire.

It is an informal session provided by the Alzheimer’s Society, which identified that even memories that are hard to retrieve can be brought to the surface with music or song, making it a wonderful way to relax with family members or carer.

And now a group of care homes in the region have found a way of using technology to their advantage – creating a Spotify playlist for each individual resident, so the days of a room full of pensioners listening to the same old crooner are gone.

The music streaming service allows residents to select music from all genres, across the decades, so it is possible to find long-forgotten memories locked inside a song.

As author of Dear Dementia and head of engagement at Wellburn Care Homes Ian Donaghy found, music is not a one size fits all solution.

He said: “Travelling around care homes you hear wall to wall Vera Lynn telling us how white Dover's cliffs were - but on closer inspection many of the people in the room were born in 1940 – so Dame Vera singing "We'll meet again” is meaningless when they’ve never met before.

“We have found that many used to love to sing in church choirs and play music live.

“One man produced a harmonica from his drawer following a chat and had a jam with me playing guitar. His eyes fired up as his friends clapped along - that is the power of music."