Fleetwood man, 78, backs singing campaign to combat dementia

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A 78-year-old Fleetwood rman with dementia has joined calls to expand a popular singing activity for people with dementia in the town .

John Hodgkiss with wife Maggie

John Hodgkiss with wife Maggie

Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain initiative unites people affected by dementia- of which there are 17,000 in Lancashire – through song.

People with dementia have been hit particularly hard by coronavirus, with many people with the condition significantly deteriorating from the knock-on effects of lockdown.

Singing for the Brain helps to reduce social isolation, improve quality of life, wellbeing and mood, which the charity says has never been needed more.

John Hodgkiss, 78, knows the benefits of music and has been attending a virtual Singing for the Brain group area every Tuesday morning with his wife Maggie.

John was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s in March 2020.

John has only experienced Singing for the Brain virtually so is looking forward to when the group gets back together in person next week.

He said: “I really have enjoyed attending the group so far and being able to talk to other people, but I am looking forward to meeting the group properly next week. I think it will be a totally different experience.

“There’s always different songs, from music hall pieces right up to current pop songs and sometimes there’s a theme so there’s always a great variety.

“I even got the opportunity to sing a solo by myself. I sang a song from The Mikado, which I particularly loved, and it felt really rewarding to do.”

Alzheimer’s Society is now offering care providers, organisations or individuals across Lancashire with an interest in music, the chance to run their own group and become a Singing for the Brain delivery partner.

They will provide partners with the support and resources to successfully do this.

Alzheimer’s Society, supported by the Utley Foundation, through their Music for Dementia campaign, aims to recruit 80 new Singing for the Brain delivery partners across the UK by the end of this summer.

Singing for the Brain is an uplifting and stimulating group activity for people affected by dementia, built around music and song. Through fun vocal warm-ups, and a variety of familiar and new songs, the music accesses and engages different parts of the brain.

Alzheimer’s Society Area Manager in Lancashire, Tara Edwards said: “Music memory is often retained when other memories are lost. Singing for the Brain can help people, even in advanced stages of dementia, to tap into long-term memories linked to music and song – for some, this can mean they can communicate through singing when no longer able to do so through speech.

“We have well established Singing for the Brain groups in Lancashire, and we hear how valuable these are to those who attend them like John and Maggie, even now during the pandemic, where we have adapted to run this service virtually. That’s why we are keen to help others set up a group so even more people can access this popular activity.

“We are changing the way we provide support for people affected by dementia in the community so we can reach more people through delivery partners. We want more people to benefit from our popular Singing for the Brain service.”

To find out more and to register your interest, visit alzheimers.org.uk/singingforthebrain or you can contact the local office answerphone service on (01253) 696854 to enquire about attending the sessions in person.