Music has proved extremely effective in helping people with dementia reconnect with their own past and the people around them.
Patients who seem distant and 'lost' can suddenly seem to become themselves again when a familiar tune or song from their past seems to spark something inside their brain. For one 80-year-old man who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease, this musical connection is quite remarkable and has landed the former entertainer a recording deal with major record company Decca.
Former Butlins redcoat and club singer Ted McDermott was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2013 and had gradually deteriorated to the point where he would sometimes fail to recognise his son Simon, known as Mac. But while driving his dad around their home town of Blackburn, Mac noticed that playing some of the songs he used to sing seemed to reignite his old personality.
Ted – nicknamed 'The Songaminute Man' for the number of songs he knew – would join in with all his old skill, remembering all the words to his favourite Frank Sinatra songs and show tunes.
No mean singer himself, Mac set up a dashboard camera to record him and his father singing along. He was so pleased with the results that he uploaded them to internet video sharing channel YouTube, hoping to raise awareness for the Alzheimer's Society and maybe "a few hundred pounds" for the charity.
The videos quickly 'went viral', with more than 40 million people viewing them all around the world. They have also raised £122,000 and rising for the Alzheimer's Society through an online link to a website where people can make donations.
One of the people to see them was an executive from record label Decca, who was so impressed with Ted's powerful and tuneful voice that he invited him to set up a recording sessions. Ted has now recorded a single to be released this Friday, September 23rd, raising more money for the Alzheimer's Society.
The single was recorded at London's famous Abbey Road Studios and features Ted singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" and "Quando Quando Quando", both with live backing from the Guy Barker Big Band. Both songs had featured on the car videos posted by his son, who said: "This is a dream come true, not only for Dad but for the entire family. And it's great to help the Alzheimer's Society who provide so much help and support to other families going through the same things as us."
Decca executive producer Alexander Van Ingen, added: "Teddy's voice is truly remarkable for any singer, let alone one 80 years of age. It's a captivating sound, and full of character and experience; in it you can hear the worldly understanding of a lifetime."