Case Study

Music for the Mind – Phyllis’s story

Alzheimer’s Support “There are always lots of laughs. When you’re singing and doing the exercises you suddenly realise that this thing you have may be awful, but you can still carry on just fine.”

Music has always been a part of Phyllis Mason’s life. She has a deep love of classical music, with Chopin and Beethoven particular favourites, and always listened to symphonies and concertos at home. As a child she was part of a choir that performed on Children’s Hour on BBC radio. She was an accomplished piano player and had a baby grand at her cottage in Pewsey, Wiltshire.

Phyllis recalls: “I was playing the slow movement of a concerto once and my neighbour told me she had been listening to me in the bath. She just sat there with tears streaming down her face, freezing as the water went cold. I hadn’t realised she could hear me. I never had any confidence so I nearly died!”

Phyllis’ family first noticed changes in her around six or seven years ago. They felt she wasn’t keeping on top of things as she always had and realised her quirky cottage with its big garden was no longer suitable.

Daughter Jo said: “Mum was at a point where she was accepting of change. Although she was moving from a cottage into a flat she was staying in her village and we replicated the spaces from her old home in her new one so there really wasn’t much difference. That flat has been just as much of a blessing as Alzheimer’s Support.”

With Phyllis’ love of music, the Wiltshire charity’s local weekly Music for the Mind group was a natural fit. Jo said: “Mum loves the group. David, the group leader, has a very clever style and is perfect in the way he gets people to relax and have a laugh. Mum really likes him and is now more interested in modern music too.”

Music – and a good routine – also helped Phyllis through the pandemic. She had regular visits from the charity’s support worker, as well as carers. Music for the Mind continued to be a highlight of her week, with online sessions replacing the face-to-face meetings during the worst of the lockdown.

Jo said: “Mum’s coped phenomenally well – she was evacuated as a child so is used to her life being disrupted.

“The virtual Music for the Mind has been fabulous. Mum’s reaction to the first one she watched was amazing. She lit up instantly like a beacon, was animated, interacting, laughing and talking me through some of it. It just took her off to a place where she is obviously so incredibly comfortable, happy and stimulated that she completely didn’t notice it was online.”

Find out more about Alzheimer’s Support.