Pat has vascular dementia. Music24 helps him hang on to the real Pat.
Pat tells us his story:
“About six years ago, I had a major stroke. And as a result of having that stroke, I had an MRI scan and it was found out that I had vascular dementia. I’d worked for 45 years for John Lewis, never been out of work. I was a manager, 250 staff. Then my whole world fell apart. I had to stop working because I couldn’t remember things. I sat at home and stared at the four walls and they started to close in on me. Then, one time when I went to the memory clinic, they said, “Have you ever heard of a place called Music24?”
“I went there with a little bit of anticipation, thinking what’s it going to be like? They made me feel welcome straight away. They treated me with dignity. They treated me with respect and my whole life changed. Being with dementia is the worst thing you can have. I have good days and bad days. There are days when I cannot remember anything. I can recall things 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago, but something that happened the day before completely goes out of my head.
“Do you remember the old Ready Brek adverts, where you had this glow come around you? That’s what it’s like when I go into Music24.“
“This glow comes all around me and I feel warm, I feel protected.”
Paul describes a typical Music24 session:
“We have a little warm-up session and then we have an inspirational beat where we play the drums, play the cymbals, play the guitar. And then, we have the singsong, which is brilliant and people call out a number of a song, and then everyone sings that song. And then we have what’s called a Boogie – we get up, and we dance. I can waltz, tango, foxtrot. I can twist, jive, I do everything. And it’s great having that.
“I wake up in the morning, and I think, “Oh, it’s Music24 today, and then I really look forward to it. I come here and all the bad feelings, the depression, the loneliness that have built up in that week just evaporates, like steam coming out of a kettle.“
Music24 provides music therapy and other music-related activities to various groups in Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire. They unlock the power of music to bring joy and community to groups including adults with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, neuro-disabilities, people with dementia and their carers, and other people who are at risk of being socially isolated and vulnerable. It is one of the brilliant local charities who have been supported by Luton Rising.
For Pat, it’s a lifesaver:
“Dementia isn’t a light switch. Dementia is a dimmer switch and over a period of time, you have no control how it turns, and slowly, the light gets darker and darker and darker. But Music24 comes along and it turns the dimmer the other way, at least for a while.
“Dementia is the biggest curse. It takes your soul and your life away. It is a disease that has no cure. I know what my fate is, but while I’m still here, I’m going to bang the gong about Music24. Not only has it rescued me, but it’s rescued hundreds of people. Because without Music24, I’ll tell you what you have. You have four walls and every day, those four walls get smaller, and the next day they get smaller until eventually, there’s no way out. There’s no door. There’s no light at the end of a tunnel.”
“Music24 is a remarkable, caring and understanding vehicle for people not only with dementia, but for autistic people, people who had strokes, they do as well. They’re there for us. When you’re down and you’re staring at four walls, it’s so nice to see a door open with a light in it that made you feel welcome and bring you in. Because I have felt so depressed. I have felt like committing suicide because my whole life fell apart when I had dementia. I’ve been busy all my life. To have it taken away is way too cruel.
“I’d like to live as free a life as possible, but obviously, with my dementia, I have limitations. But it’s so important, the music and the companionship of Music24 that actually gets inside your soul and your body, and you feel ten feet tall when you leave. No matter how you feel when you get here, you’ll always leave with a smile on your face.”