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Dad with Alzheimer’s brought ‘back to life’by his favourite songs

These heartwarming images show a father stricken with devastating dementia who ‘comes back to life’ when he hears his favorite songs.

Eddie O’Brien, 74, of Warrington, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago after his family noticed he forgot names and got lost on the way home.

The debilitating condition may make it difficult for him to communicate verbally with his family.

But when his daughter Rebecca, 30, started playing his old tunes and bought him a pair of headphones, she saw his mood change before her eyes.

As soon as he hears music, his feet begin to tap and he is dancing.

While the retired decorator is particularly fond of Elvis, Rebecca says Eddie loves to unleash his “crazy moves” on all kinds of music—from rap to country and western.

Eddie O'Brien, 74, of Warrington, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago after his family noticed he forgot names and got lost on the way home.  But he comes 'back to life' when he listens to his favorite tunes

Eddie O’Brien, 74, of Warrington, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago after his family noticed he forgot names and got lost on the way home. But he comes ‘back to life’ when he listens to his favorite tunes

Ever since his daughter Rebecca, 30, offered him headphones, Eddie has been singing and dancing to his favorite tunes

Ever since his daughter Rebecca, 30, offered him headphones, Eddie has been singing and dancing to his favorite tunes

And she said it was fantastic to see her father “loving life” despite his illness – and getting “so happy” listening to a thumping beat.

Rebecca, from Warrington, Cheshire, said: ‘It’s just a breath of fresh air to be honest, because it can be so heartbreaking.

“It often makes people angrier and more agitated and frustrated because they don’t know what’s going on.

“But with my dad, he just doesn’t seem to care, and I think that’s the best way to be — he absolutely loves life now.

Rebecca said it was 'a breath of fresh air' to see her father enjoying himself and said he has some 'crazy moves'

She added that he loves to sing on TV, which her mother is not too happy about

Rebecca said it was a ‘breath of relief’ to see her father enjoying herself and said he has some ‘crazy moves’. She added that he loves to sing on TV, which her mother is not too happy about

“And he just has these crazy moves — you can just see he’s just so happy, and it just really brings him back to life.”

Rebecca, a senior counselor at the community, began to worry that her father was suffering from a memory impairment after being robbed on a night out.

She said: ‘The two men had stolen £500 from his bank accounts because he kept his PIN in his wallet.

“And another time he said he got on the wrong bus home but couldn’t remember where it had taken him.

Rebecca with her father, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2019 after he started forgetting names and got lost on the way home

Rebecca with her father, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2019 after he started forgetting names and got lost on the way home

Pictured: Eddie, who is a huge fan of Elvis but also loves all genres of music, dances in the family yard

Pictured: Eddie, who is a huge fan of Elvis but also loves all genres of music, dances in the family yard

“And then we started to get really, really worried.”

Eddie was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – a progressive disease that leads to severe memory impairment and a decline in a person’s behavioral and social skills.

And while he later responded well to medication, Rebecca said hearing his favorite old songs really brought him out of his shell.

She said: ‘My father has always loved music, we always have music in the house.

“And I remember during Covid my dad and I were in the car and we went to my cousin to drop off a present, and I put some of his old music on in the car.

‘After that we had a drink at home – and my father was just jumping and dancing.’

Eddie at home with the family dog.  Rebecca said her father is responding well to the Alzheimer's meds and still goes to the pub every Monday

Eddie at home with the family dog. Rebecca said her father is responding well to the Alzheimer’s meds and still goes to the pub every Monday

Rebecca and Eddie with their family.  Despite his prognosis, Eddie has remained optimistic and…

Rebecca and Eddie with their family. Despite his prognosis, Eddie has remained optimistic and…

She added: “When I think it was Father’s Day, I just bought him some headphones to see how much he liked them, and he really liked them a lot.

‘I don’t think my mother was so happy. She tried to watch the TV, but my father just sang above it. He absolutely loved it.’

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain in which the build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.

This disrupts the transmitters that transmit messages and causes the brain to shrink.

More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

When brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost.

That includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.

The course of the disease is slow and gradual.

Patients live an average of five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live ten to 15 years.

EARLY SYMPTOMS:

  • Loss of short-term memory
  • disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • mood swings
  • Difficulty handling or calling money

LATER SYMPTOMS:

  • Severe amnesia, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated with the inability to understand the world, leading to aggressive behavior
  • Eventually loses the ability to walk
  • May have trouble eating
  • The majority ultimately need 24-hour care

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Rebecca said Eddie’s favorite singer is Elvis, but he’s pretty happy to bang along to any song with a beat, no matter the genre.

She said, ‘He absolutely loves Elvis – but any kind of music, any kind of beat, he literally just loves it.’

One of his favorite Elvis songs is ‘Suspicious Minds’, but he also likes Billy J Kramer’s ‘Bad to Me’ and Buddy Holland’s ‘Peggy Sue’.

‘He still goes to one of the bars every Monday between 2 and 7 pm.

“The DJ there messaged me to say he doesn’t have to do his job because my dad gets everyone dancing.

“He said he always did ‘the punch’ and he tries to show me, but I don’t know what it is!”

Rebecca said there were still days when Eddie’s illness weighed heavily on his family, but added that he remained optimistic despite his chronic prognosis.

She said: ‘I work with vulnerable adults, and many of them are elderly and have Alzheimer’s and dementia, so I know some of the signs and symptoms.

“And there are days when the family struggles because he repeats himself. He forgets everything.

“But overall, he’s just really happy, and it’s wonderful to be around him, because he’s so happy, and he makes me happy — and that’s all I focus on.”

Grace Meadows, campaign manager at the Music for Dementia campaign group, which calls for people with the disease to make music as an integral part of their care, said: “It’s great to see Eddie being touched and brought back to life by music.

‘Music has the power to create beautiful moments of togetherness, to enliven, excite and enable people to express themselves.

“It can also help people with Alzheimer’s disease in so many other ways, by providing a channel to manage symptoms of the disorders and emotions.”

“It can bring joy when they’re feeling down or create a sense of calm when they’re agitated or anxious, and create wonderful, shared experiences with loved ones.

“We hope that many other families will be inspired by Rebecca and Eddie’s story and put together a personal playlist to see how music can work for them too.”

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