Sounds Up - Music for Dementia

Manchester couple say virtual singing sessions have lifted their spirits during lockdown

75-year old Diana Marks is one of the many unpaid carers in the UK who has been using music as a way to alleviate stress and keep spirits high throughout the current health crisis. She and her husband Malcolm, who has Vascular Dementia, have been isolating and keeping to themselves for many months.

Before lockdown Diana and Malcolm would usually attend SoundUp Arts in Manchester. This participatory music organisation specialises in developing programmes that engage people living with dementia. However, since the first lockdown in March 2020 this hasn’t been possible.

The couple has had to stay away from family and friends but both have found solace in online music sessions, taking part in the SoundsUp Arts digital group singing sessions virtually while at home. They have found that music has alleviated Malcolm’s symptoms, whilst also providing some light relief for Diana, in a time of heightened anxiety.

Diana said: “The sessions have become a weekly milestone for Malcolm and me during lockdown – the highlight of his day is to sing along with Lucy and Ranold who run the sessions. Usually, Malcolm is a people’s person but unfortunately isolation has caused low moods and he can appear quite lost sometimes.

“I use music when I notice Malcolm is getting agitated, for example after watching the news we put Andre Rieu on afterwards and he is up singing and dancing every time! These sessions have been invaluable for both Malcolm and me; it’s fabulous to watch him sing along and joke to Lucy, every so often giving them a thumbs up.

“There are thousands of people who are in the same boat as us who might feel lonely and isolated and their conditions may have got worse as a result.

“We’d urge them to find out how to make the most of music during this time.”

Visit the Musical Map to find out about virtual musical activities or find out how music helps.