Alive's Variety Hour

Variety Hour is our most requested session. It consists of short fun engaging activities designed to stimulate participants physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
Music and dance play a key role in our Variety Hour sessions as they are particularly useful activities for working with people living with dementia, they access a very instinctual part of our brains. They can be part of planned or spontaneous activity and can be used in a variety of interesting and creative ways. Both transcend language and tap into memories that remain longer than verbal ability.

What are the potential benefits of music and dance?

  • Positively alters mood for a sustained period - decreasing anxiety and depression
  • Brings enjoyment, relaxation and happiness
  • Promotes memory recall and reminiscence
  • Encourages an emotional memory response
  • Improves awareness, understanding and clarity
  • Helps manage stress by accessing our emotions
  • Promotes a sense of rhythm in harmony with the body
  • Provides a sense of identity, belonging and independence
  • Provides voice therapy- helping with speech reconstruction among people who struggle to communicate verbally
  • Encourages mobility and physical rehabilitation
  • Requires concentration thereby increasing attention span and bringing people to the present moment
  • Stimulates the senses
  • Reaches a person at any level of disability – even without active participation
  • Promotes social interaction
  • Establishes relationships through mutual enjoyment and participation
  • Meets spiritual needs and allow self-expression

I have experienced countless times where music and dance have been the most effective way to engage people in activity. One example was a lady who was living in the advanced stages of dementia and who couldn’t speak. I spent time using ‘humming to music’ as a means to connect to her. We hummed together and after a while, she was able to sing to the songs using coherent language and could articulate her feelings about the songs. The manager of the home was overwhelmed and told me “I’ve never heard this lady talk once”.

Craig Stevens, Alive West Sussex Regional Manager.