Songs of praise

Senior lady singing

Choir leader Rona talks about the benefits of singing for people with dementia

Following her own experiences as a carer for her late mother, Rona set up a dementia choir at Brickworks Community Centre in Islington. She shares how singing can benefit people with dementia and why people should come along to the Dementia Choir

What is the Dementia Choir?
The choir is a chance for people aged 60-plus, with or without dementia, and their carers to come together and do a bit of singing. The choir meets every Monday from 12.30 until 1.30pm, and walk-ins are accepted. The choir sessions are a relaxed and fun way to meet other people who know what it’s like living with or supporting a loved one with dementia. The music ranges from jazz and country to show tunes.

What motivated you to start the choir?
I was a carer for my late mother, who had dementia for the last nine years of her life. I got the idea to bring a choir to Brickworks when I overheard that the CEO’s father had just been diagnosed. I decided to reach out to the community centre to see if they would be interested in a dementia choir in Islington.

How can being part of a choir benefit people with dementia?
There has been a plethora of research over the years to prove that singing stimulates the parts of the brain affected by the progression of dementia, thus impeding its progression and stimulating lucidity and awareness. Singing can help slow down their condition temporarily and it encourages social interaction, soothes their anxiety, evokes memories, and lifts their moods.

What adaptations have you made to the choir to support people with dementia?
I provide an appropriate range of songs and large print lyrics. I make it more person-centred and have fewer demands on singing or musical quality and standards. We work up the level of complexity slowly. It is always warm and welcoming.

How can people in Islington get involved?
Come to Brickworks, Hanley Crouch Community Centre, 42 Crouch Hill, London N4, every Monday at 12.30pm and ask for the Dementia Choir!

You can find out more about how you can get help and support with dementia in Islington by visiting the One You Islington directory website.

Dementia Action Week (16–22 May) this year is all about diagnosis. Research by the Alzheimer’s Society shows that there is a misconception around memory loss being a sign of normal ageing and this is the biggest barrier to people seeking a dementia diagnosis. They want to encourage those who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to seek guidance and support and to feel empowered to take the next step. For more information and resources, visit the Alzheimer’s Society website.

If you are concerned about a loved one or about your own memory loss, get support from Islington Memory Service.

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