Jazz music is good for the soul and dementia

Dementia sufferers, their carers and Henfield residents have joined together to sing jazz, break preconceptions and bring ‘inclusivity to the village’.

The brainchild of Alex and Jennie Morrison-Cowan, Know Dementia is a rural charity that supports people who are affected by the disease.

JPCT 14-02-13 S13080156x Jazzled. Henfield -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 14-02-13 S13080156x Jazzled. Henfield -photo by Steve Cobb

Once a fortnight the group get together for ‘Jazzled’, an afternoon of jazz choir practise and a little dancing, if the mood strikes.

“People with dementia have all these words inside them still, so what we’re trying to do is stimulate the brain,” explained Mrs Morrison-Cowan.

Singing ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’, which includes lyrics associated with memory and love, Mrs Morrison-Cowan felt it was appropriate for Valentine’s Day.

She continued, “It’s not mental health, it’s a medical condition. The public are frightened by the word dementia. What we’re trying to do is get them to learn about it.”

Also in attendance was trustee, Bob Bew, and his wife Maxine - who has suffered from dementia for several years.

Mr Bew imparted: “She can forget things but when music comes up, that’s it, she’s back again.”

Working for her husband’s transport company, Maxine experienced early signs of the disease when she drove to Southend on a job and forgot why she was there.

“Without someone there to help, people with dementia don’t go out, but they do like to be active. Maxine is active a lot of the time.”

Mr Bew continued to explain that Maxine was unfortunately missed diagnosed numerous times, but even after finding out she had dementia, the couple struggled to find information and support.

“We didn’t know where to go. Here we can give people advice and point them in the right direction.”

Surprised by the big turn out each session, Mr Bew hopes that Knowing Dementia that also offers drop-in clinics and carers’ meetings will receive enough funding to keep it alive for future years.

Jazz vocalist, Lou Beckerman, led the choir on the day.

She said: “When I worked on a hospital ward with dementia patients, often there were people who never spoke and the music brought them alive.”

‘Jazzled’ is not just for those affected by dementia - it is for everyone. Book your place for £4 on 01273 494300 or email info@knowdementia.co.uk.