What’s On The Line? | Singing For the Brain

For Dementia Action Week 2019, I went along to Chelmsford Cathedral on Thursday afternoon to join the Singing For The Brain Concert organised by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Dementia is caused by diseases, including Alzheimer’s, which cause nerve cells to die and damage the structure of the brain. It manifests in a number of ways, including memory loss, issues with communication and difficulty controlling emotions. Dementia is not an inevitable part of getting older, but it is possible to live well with dementia, a message the Alzheimer’s Society are keen to reinforce. There is a variety of support and activities available to help those living with dementia lead a fulfilled, purposeful life.

Singing For The Brain was introduced to bring together people living with dementia to make friends and enjoy singing, which is known to improve brain activity, mood and wellbeing. Although memories may be hard to retrieve, music is especially easy to recall and Singing For The Brain builds on the preserved memory for song and music in the brain.

As well as a selection of popular songs sang with passion and emotion by the choir, there were also short presentations including one from Faith Beswisk, who cared for her grandfather when he was living with dementia. Faith showed artwork she had created of her late grandfather and talked about her experiences in supporting him.

There was also a reading of the poem by Vivienne Anne Mackenzie Ward, ‘The Unravelling’;

‘Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.

Like a much-loved jumper.

One that you have had forever, a security blanket.

Then one day, you notice that it’s beginning to get holes, that the buttons are falling off.

It doesn’t worry you at first because you expect it.

Then the loose threads appear, slowly at first, then gradually faster.

And even if you try and re-stitch them, you realise that your beloved jumper is

Actually unravelling faster than you can repair it, that it is losing its shape, its form and eventually its purpose.

That all you have left is a pile of yarn – and you can’t find the beginning or the end.

Yet you know it is in there, somewhere…

Together, but apart.’

According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. One in 14 people over 65 will develop dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80. As people are living longer. It is estimated that by 2025, the number of people with dementia in the UK will have increased to around 1 million.

If you are living with dementia or caring for someone who is, Healthwatch Essex Information & Signposting Team can give you details about the support services and wellbeing activities in your local area. Call us on 0300 500 1895, email at [email protected] or drop us a line via the WhatsApp link on our website.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sharon, Information & Signposting Lead