“People are still receptive to music even in an advanced stage of dementia,” said the concerts’ moderator Veronika Mandl, “because it connects to different areas of the brain.

“Music is memory, an emotion, a connection with different things,” she said.

Mandl did “a lot of research” into music that spectators might recognise as she was coming up with the programme, she said. 

And she watches closely how the audience reacts, with some leaning on each others’ shoulders as they are move.

At the beginning of each concert, which lasts around an hour, Mandl sets the tone. She tells the audience they can move around, go to the toilet if they wish, or even leave when they want.

Staff are also trained to understand people living with dementia and help them feel more comfortable.

An audience member who mumbled through a recital by a young Polish trio was gently guided to another place to give her more space. 

Nursing home caregiver Iris Krall-Radulian, a trained musician herself, said many of the spectators were concertgoers before they got dementia.

“We know that (the music) has an enormous impact. They are much happier and they feel alive” after the concerts, she said.”

Source: ‘Everything is allowed’: Vienna’s dementia-friendly concerts