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Following my Mother’s diagnosis of dementia 10 years ago, my sister Jo and I were very keen to find an activity to enjoy with Mum whilst building some happy memories around what felt like a devastating disease. Mum has always enjoyed singing and one of my earliest memories as a child was of singing old time music hall songs along with her and Dad in the car. 
Singing for the Brain is an activity run by the Alzheimer’s Society, which provides a stimulating and fun activity for those with dementia together with their family members. Research indicates that listening to music can have emotional benefits for people with dementia as musical memories are often preserved due to the musical memory being relatively undamaged by the disease. 
Music promotes emotional memories, the first dance at a wedding, the first kiss, and is of course music is used at funerals to remember loved ones. For people with dementia, music may help to reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language skills and enhance quality of life. 
Mum’s ability to communicate was lost very early to dementia but her ability to remember the words to familiar songs remained. As someone who enjoys singing myself I decided to train to become a group leader for the Singing for Brain sessions and alongside my work at County Care still lead session at the Beaconsfield group. 
The Singing for the Brain sessions are lively and fun, structured to encourage participation and communication. Following coffee and biscuits the themed session begins with warmup exercises, moving to brain teasers, round, 2-part singing and a singalong to familiar and new songs. Participants have the choice of playing percussive instruments, the result often being a very noisy session! 
Of course to gain the benefit of music you don’t have to attend an organised group session such as Singing for the Brain however many family members have spoken to me about the emotional support they have received from meeting other carers in a similar caring role. 
For Mum and my sister Jo, attending the weekly singing sessions gave us an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company in a non- threatening and safe environment whilst having fun as a family during what we felt was often a very challenging time. 
Maidenhead Singing for the Brain held at: 
The Salvation Army Hall,, East Road, Maidenhead SL6 1PJ call 01628 636221 for more information 
Bracknell Singing for the Brain held at: 
Langley Hall, The Ring, Bracknell, RG12 1HD call 01189 596482 for more information. 
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