Volunteers needed to help dementia sufferers

Natalie Betts with Len and Mavis Cook

Natalie Betts with Len and Mavis Cook

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Dorchester reporter

NEW volunteers are being sought to safeguard the future of a unique service in Dorset for people with dementia.

Melodies for Memories, supported by Age UK Dorchester and Age UK Bournemouth, runs eight groups at different locations across the county.

Project manager Yvonne Cable explains: “Music is a great medium for stimulating past memories and it’s amazing how even those with severe memory impairment can still remember lyrics and melodies from 50 years ago.

“Although most of our attendees have dementia, we do have a few older people who don’t have dementia, but love music and enjoy the opportunity to meet others.”

Mavis Cook, who has dementia, attends a weekly session held at a care home in Ferndown with her husband and carer Len.

Mavis says she has always enjoyed singing: “I’m often surprised at how well I remember the words – I find it easier to remember words to a song than everyday tasks. If someone tells me something – I’ve often forgotten within an hour.”

Her husband Len says he enjoys it too: “It is a very sociable and enjoyable afternoon. We often carry on singing when we get home.”

Joy Simpson, 85, has been attending the sessions since they started: “Singing on its own cheers you up, but it’s even better when there’s a group of you.”

Her friend Jackie Wood, 75 agreed: “We know all the songs we used to sing during the war – it makes you feel good as it brings back a lot of happy memories.”

Music facilitator Natalie Betts, who plays acoustic guitar at the sessions, said: “Life can be quite hard at home for some of them, but this is a chance for people to relax and have fun.

“Music is so inclusive and we play new songs as well as old songs so everyone can join in.”

Yvonne adds: “The service only has funding until October so we need more people to make it sustainable.”

To know more about the service, please contact Yvonne on 07747 533252 or email yvonne@ageukdorchester.co.uk.

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