Older people in Scotland say ‘thank you for the music’

Half of older people say they have forgotten lots of things but they can still remember the words of their favourite song.
Half of older people say they have forgotten lots of things but they can still remember the words of their favourite song.

Music is described as a means of escape for many, with fresh research from Royal Voluntary Service identifying the power it has to help older people remember pivotal events from their past.

According to the study conducted by the older people’s charity for their Sing Your Heart Out campaign, over 300,000 over 75 year olds in Scotland find listening to music triggers special memories.

A reminder of the day they met their partner (16 per cent), a special day (10 per cent) or their wedding day (11 per cent) are just some of the memories music has the power to access.

Music and singing can be a powerful force in helping older people in many different ways. Studies have demonstrated its power in helping those with dementia, such as stimulating and even unlocking people who may be removed from the present through their illness, and singing can also help to recall memories and emotions and enhance mental performance.

Singing along to a favourite tune can also have positive effects on the health and well-being of older people as well, with 94 per cent saying it lifts their mood, 83 per cent that it keeps their mind active and 64 per cent that it helps them forget their health worries.

Although some memories grow faint over the years, many older people say they that they have forgotten lots of things but they can still remember the words of their favourite song (74 per cent) and that listening to music improves their memory (56 per cent).

It’s not just the older people that have been reminiscing about songs that bring back happy memories; some of Royal Voluntary Service Ambassadors have identified their special song and its significance in their life:

Phillip Schofield, said: “My song is Make me Smile by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. That’s my childhood in a song. What seemed like endless summer days, growing up in Newquay, Cornwall. Playing on the beach, being late for tea having lost track of time and (blissfully) no mobile phones so I couldn’t check in even if I wanted to.”

Patricia Routledge, said: “Love’s Old Sweet Song by James Molloy sung by Sir Thomas Allen brings back memories of childhood for me and of listening to the grown-ups singing songs around the piano, especially at Christmas time.”

Wayne Sleep, said: “My first musical memory is Has Anybody Seen My Girl - Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue? I danced to it when I was 8 years old for a competition where all the schools competed in the North East, I entered the song and dance section. The adjudicator gave me first place and she said, “where is this boy’s mother, he must learn ballet?!” I had danced a tap number with my feet turned out like Charlie Chaplin. At the time my mother snuck out the auditorium, however, I did take up ballet which changed my life forever.”

Royal Voluntary Service is calling on choirs to join their Sing Your Heart Out fundraiser to raise money to support vulnerable older people through their love of singing. Choirs of all sizes and experience are encouraged to hold a performance in aid of the charity, with all money raised going towards supporting older people in their local area through services such as lunch clubs, companionship, transport and books on wheels.

Josephine Mill, Head of Support and Development for Royal Voluntary Service said: “Music and singing can have such a great impact on the life of an older person especially as it has the power to transport them back to a happy memory or make them forget about how they are feeling physically or mentally. We’ve seen first-hand how it can lift spirits or help those with dementia through the music related services we run for older people.

“We’re asking choirs to sing their hearts out and donate a performance to Royal Voluntary Service to enable us to help more older people in need of support. Every penny raised will help older people to get the best out of life.”

Every month, Royal Voluntary Service helps 100,000 vulnerable and isolated older people to get the best out of life. To find out more information or to register your choir, go to http://www.singyourheartout.org.uk/

Share your song and memory using the #singyourheartout