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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 17:50 GMT
Music sessions 'help' memory loss
Erika Woods and Lynne Hughes at the session
Bongos, tambourines and maracas are among the instruments played
A project which uses music and song to try to help people with memory problems has been launched in Flintshire.

At a weekly group, members are encouraged to chant and sing together and recite their favourite songs in the hope it could stimulate memories.

Relatives, carers and friends join in the Flintshire Sounds sessions and percussion instruments are played.

A music charity will run the nine-month project with Flintshire Council and Flintshire Local Health Board.

Around a dozen people took part in a one-and-a-half hour session at St Ethelwold's Church parish hall in Shotton on Thursday.

Among the group was Lynne Hughes, 67, who is chair of the Alzheimer's Society's Flintshire branch.

We had one woman who came in and for the first three or four sessions she just gazed blankly, but then she started recognising the songs...It was an amazing moment.
Erika Woods, director of charity MASE

She said: "I haven't seen this sort of activity before for people with dementia but apparently all the research shows that it's beneficial so I've come along to have a look.

"I think all the signs are there that it really can help. If it works, I will go back to the branch and we will try and promote this more widely to try and benefit as many people as possible."

Ms Hughes, whose husband Trevor died five years ago after battling dementia, added: "This is something Trevor may have benefited from.

"I have seen people here who are like a mirror image of me and my husband and they are benefiting from it. There was nothing like this 13 years ago when my husband was diagnosed."

Erika Woods, director of charity Music and Sound Experience (MASE), said: "We have been asked to work with people with memory and mental health problems. It's a proven fact that music crosses a lot of barriers.

"Firstly, we're encouraging a social life to be enjoyed by both the carer and the person who is suffering from Alzheimer's.

The group playing instruments
Around a dozen people took part in the session in Shotton

"When people's memories are fading, you have to keep something alive within that person."

She said music and songs could benefit people with Alzheimer's by helping to trigger memories from certain points in their lives.

Ms Woods added: "We had one woman who came in and for the first three or four sessions she just gazed blankly, but then she started recognising the songs, and she also started recognising us. It was an amazing moment.

"It doesn't help short-term memory but all the time it's stimulating the brain in a positive way rather than drugs."

The sessions will run for six-week trials across five different areas of Flintshire.

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