My father in Law, Bob Robertson, is 88 years of age, and he loves singing. Music was a big part of his life. He sang in the his school choir at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, he sang with the Fort Theatre Group in Bishopbriggs, as well as a first tenor in Kirkintilloch Male Voice Choir. He is a Life President of the Kirkintilloch Male Voice Choir and served on the committee for many years as Concert Manager. Music was important to him, and he passed this passion on to his daughter Sally, who is a Music Teacher at Uddingston Grammar and now also the Musical Director of the male voice choir.
Bob was first diagnosed with dementia in January 2001, but with the help of other choir members he continued to sing until 2012. Finally, due to his illness Bob had to go into care and he’s since then been a resident in Hogganfield Care Home in Glasgow. This however hasn’t stopped in from singing: he continues to burst into song without much encouragement. When he went into care the family put together a CD of Bob’s favourite songs. This has been of great benefit in encouraging Bob to talk to the family about his memories of the past. It has also given the family great comfort to see Bob still enjoying to sing and, in a small way, still being able to engage with them. Bob can sing his tenor part to some of the traditional male voice choir pieces he would have sung over many years, word and note perfect!
One of Bob’s favourites is the French National Anthem!!!! That’s on the CD, too. He learnt it over 75 years ago when he was at school, and he still sings along to it when we put on the CD. Oh and by the way he sings it in French.
Isn’t music so powerful when living with dementia whether having illness or as a family member who’s still trying to see the person as you remember them to be when they were and still continue to be an important part of your life?