Carers Week 8-14 June

The theme for Carers Week 2020 is ‘Making Caring Visible’. We salute the amazing work that unpaid carers are doing around the clock to look after their loved ones with dementia – often with all support absent during isolation in order to keep them safe.

Many of these carers are exhausted and yet they carry on because they have no alternative. Some are able to draw on the connections that music can bring to people living with dementia and many of these people are using services from our Musical Map to join in with activities and performances online.

Below we show some lovely videos and tell the story of Belinda and her mother Barbara, for whom sharing music is a very important part of their hours together.

Belinda Tryhorn cares for her 80-year-old mother Barbara part-time. Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2018, although the family believe she had it for 4-5 years before that. She lives alone and since the beginning of lockdown has had her home visits from carers increased from 2 to 3 times a day due to a deterioration in her condition.  The home visits cover meals, washing and dog feeding; Belinda does her mum’s laundry, hairwashing. shopping. paperwork and dog walking, to name a few.

A former nurse who now works for a local charity, Belinda stopped work when lockdown was enforced so she could care for Barbara and keep her safe without putting her at risk. She sees Barbara every other day and they speak on the phone multiple times a day, especially during the evening when Barbara is more confused. Barbara doesn’t know how to do very much for herself any longer.

Music has always been a huge part of Barbara’s life, starting when she worked in a record shop as a teenager. Belinda always plays music when she visits her mum as Barbara is unable to operate her music system now. Belinda says: “Mum has always found solace in music and has a great sense of rhythm. She used to Jive, back in the day. She knows the guitar twangs and shoo-be-do-waps that are coming up in tracks when we listen together. We used to joke that she hasn’t got blood in her veins she’s got music.”

Belinda often takes videos which she shares on a Facebook group and with other family members to show how much enjoyment her mum is getting from music. Mother and daughter chat about bands and play favourites including Toto, Foreigner, Seekers, Eagles, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka and 70s rock. Barbara took Belinda to her first concert to see Mungo Jerry.

Pleasantly surprised at how her mother has adapted to lockdown, Belinda explains that this may be because her routine has not changed dramatically. She says: “I thought mum was going to hate it but up until recently she was doing fairly well. She’s predominantly home-based, rather going out to day centres and external activities, as she owns a dog and wouldn’t want to visit these without him.”