Dementia-inclusive choir helps with the social inclusion and empowerment of people with dementia


In a new study published in Activities, Adaptation and Aging, researchers undertook a qualitative analysis of an inclusive choir for people with dementia. The choir project was developed through joint reflection between the Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, and a daycare centre for people with dementia located in a geriatric hospital in Versailles, France. This inclusive choir comprised 12 people with dementia, 4 daycare centre staff, and 3 volunteers from the hospital, out of which 2 dropped out after the first rehearsal. The choir was directed by a professional singing teacher trained in music therapy and with experience working with people with dementia. 14 one-hour rehearsals were held and this amounted to a Christmas concert with 9 songs, that was attended by members of the public, hospital volunteers, and professionals. Findings demonstrated that the people living with dementia felt involved in the project and experienced enjoyment from participating in the choir. They learned new songs, sang in several languages and memorised a short song that was sung in canon. Their participation led to feelings of empowerment and inclusion, and they displayed increased confidence levels.

The care staff workers experienced a shift in their relational position with the people with dementia, seeing themselves as their singing partners in addition to their caregivers. The volunteers, experienced a shift in their perception of dementia, and, a reduction in the stigma towards the condition and the capacities of people with dementia. All participants reported a sense of group cohesion and connection to the other choir members. The study authors concluded that their analysis was in line with that of previous inclusive choir studies, which show that such dementia-inclusive approaches can improve people with dementia’s sense of belonging in society and confidence, and can help combat the societal stigma that surrounds the condition.