Fiona’s story

‘Earlier this year I read Sally’s book “Where Memories Go” which led me to look into Playlist for Life. Like so many families, my siblings and I have watched our strong, independent dad slowly disappear as the grip of dementia robs him of everything that once defined him. Communication has become increasingly difficult for him and he has become very withdrawn, so I thought a playlist was worth a try. My brother, whilst being cynical that it would work as dad was never particularly interested in music, agreed to take on the job of compiling the playlist. With some suggestions from my mum (including a few rugby songs!) and just going with popular music of dad’s youth in the 50s and 60s, he put together about 3 hours of music on a special “dementia friendly” music player.

Last week, he took the player over to my parents and this is part of the message we received:

“Well, that music player is a massive success. I put almost 70 songs onto it (so that’s over 3 hours), and Mum and Dad listened to the whole lot this morning. Apparently Dad could remember loads of the words, and could name the singers – sometimes when Mum couldn’t !

Mum said it was quite an emotional experience for her seeing Dad so normal. It’s amazing what a powerful trigger this has turned out to be. I know music is often cited as something that can really get through to dementia sufferers, but I’ll admit I’m very surprised at how well it worked given that Dad has never been especially interested. It’s given them both a very happy day.”

I have spoken to my mum since (none of us live nearby) and she said he has listened to it every day and it instantly brightens him up. My brother is working on adding more songs – some that mum has requested as her own memories of good times are prompted by it. It has been very emotional and so rewarding to find something that brings back a little of our dad and brings home some pleasure amongst all the depression of this terrible disease. Makes us all think about starting now on preparing our own playlist and I hope you will be rolling this out across all of the UK soon.’