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Living with Dementia – Music, Memories and Glenys’s song

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One of our most emotive projects is undoubtedly Music and Memories which we run in conjunction with Reminiscence Learning across the City of Bristol to support people living with varying levels of dementia.

A key project in Superact's Health and Wellbeing work, Music and Memories affords people living with dementia the opportunity to sing, dance and listen to our live musicians in a comfortable environment. Research suggests music is one of the most ingrained memories humans possess meaning the sessions stimulate many positive emotional responses amongst attendees.

To share this project with you, we have teamed up with our friends at Neighbourly who have filmed a moving 6 part mini-series about individuals who attend the project living with dementia.

First up is in the series is Glenys originally from mid-Wales. You can hear her story watch her singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ beautifully here.

Nick Davies, Chief Executive at Neighbourly reflected on a visit to the session:

“Anyone with even the smallest experience of dementia knows just how cruel memory loss can be. Music is a powerful force in life and perhaps no more so than when associated with memories.

“Lucy from Superact told me that memories with a strong musical association are often the last to be lost and that was clearly in evidence today. Seeing faces awaken and hearing voices such as Glenys's come alive to ’Somewhere over the rainbow’ and other classics is amazing to behold.”

Windmill Care has been accessing the services and training resources of Reminiscence Learning for some time – specifically residents at Osbourne Court have been attending the Music and Memories sessions in Bristol for around 2 years. Richard Deverson, Operations Director added:

“Our residents live with the whole range of dementias and are at varying stages of the development of this disease. The responses to the music sessions have been very positive – from foot tapping, to dancing, to drum accompaniment, the sessions elicit some startling responses from some otherwise quite ‘closed’ residents; most memorable was the spontaneous singing of God Save the Queen by one of our ladies, whilst a very capable welsh tenor then equally spontaneously altered his solo performance to fall in line with the singer – typical of the quality of the musicians who deliver the sessions.”

“It is also not just the residents who benefit – it is heartening to see a young, inexperienced and probably very self-conscious carer gain confidence from dancing with the residents and engaging in a very positive way – this is seen as a useful training experience for us and we deliberately mix different carers each time to experience this.”

If you have been moved by the Music and Memories project, you can show your support via Superact’s Neighbourly page here.