We all know what its like to have a nagging pain don’t we? It affects just about everything we want to do and how we respond to even the people we love the most.

People living with dementia feel pain just as we do, and ‘Old age doesn’t come alone’ the Scottish saying reminds us. Of course that’s often true. Osteoporosis, foot problems, arthritis, rheumatism, tooth and denture problems…. Just a few to look forward to…!

Until fairly recently there has been an under-recognition of the experience of pain in people living with dementia. Simple analgesics like paracetamol can have a positive effect on pain and the associated agitation linked to the pain.

The Playlist for Life training package uses the Personalised Music Assessment Tool (Developed at Nottingham University Hospital Trust) to measure the impact of a music playlist on pain as well as a number of other factors. Staff are encouraged to use the Abbey Pain Scale or Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia Scale (PAINAD).

What Playlist for Life is able to report is that when we assess pain in those who have access to their personally meaningful music, their experience of pain is changed and feedback so far show from staff show that those using a Personalised Playlist, are experiencing less pain related agitation.

We believe there are a number of reasons for this.

Music particularly that which is part of our unique soundtrack to our lives, music that gives us those ‘Flashback Moments, distracts and refocuses our attention away from pain to the positive experiences of music listening. When listening we become immersed in the emotional meaning of the music and the autobiographical memories attached to it.

Effectively (and we’ve all witnessed and experienced it) the music changes our mood.

Our sensory responses to pain, the neuro-mechanisms responsible for the experiences of pain are often modulated.

Listening to music supports the release of endogenous endorphins which make us feel good.

So when you are counting out your pills everyday, why not try adding in a few of your favourite tunes too?