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Singing and Dementia Reflections ~ The Handbag

The handbag

Last week, I visited a lovely care home in the High Peak. As I set up my equipment in the lounge where the residents were gathered ready to enjoy some singing, there was one particular lady who was unfortunately quite restless. She carried a well-loved black leather handbag containing her diary and a pen. The lady was very agitated and kept standing up then sitting back down, all whilst flicking through her diary and clutching her handbag, asking "Is it Saturday? Is it Saturday?"

As I began to sing, she settled in her chair but kept a firm grasp on her handbag. I knew that the bag brought her some comfort, as a lady's handbag contains all the important little things that we need in everyday life. But it was also the source of her anxiety as the dates in her diary did not add up in her mind.

Throughout the singing session, I was amazed to see that the lady loosened her grip on the handbag and began to smile. During a lively song, she even raised her hands away from the bag and moved them to the rhythm of the music. She had a big beaming smile on her face!

After the singing session had ended and I was packing away, the lovely team of staff came round with afternoon cups of tea and biscuits. By this point, the lady had put her handbag down on the floor by her feet.

It is small moments like this that bring me to tears! The power of music and live singing is so strong that it can release the mind from all its turmoil and anxiety, even after the music has finished. I feel so grateful that I can be part of these special moments.


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