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


Touching moment Elvis fan, 74, with Alzheimer’s comes ‘back to life’ when he hears his favourite songs

  • Eddie O’Brien, 74, from Warrington, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019
  • Daughter Rebecca, 30, bought him headphones and plays his favourite tunes
  • The 74-year-old comes back to life when listens to music and bust crazy moves 

This heart-warming footage shows a dad struck down with devastating dementia springing ‘back to life’ when he hears his favourite songs.

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

The debilitating condition can leave him struggling to verbally communicate with his family.

But when his daughter Rebecca, 30, began playing his old tunes and bought him some headphones, she watched as his mood transformed before her eyes.

As soon as he hears music, his feet start tapping and he is up dancing.

Although the retired decorator is especially fond of Elvis, Rebecca says Eddie is quite happy to bust out his ‘crazy moves’ to any music – from rap to country and western.

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

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

Since his daughter Rebecca, 30, offering him a pair of headphones, Eddie has been singing and dancing to his favourite tunes

Since his daughter Rebecca, 30, offering him a pair of headphones, Eddie has been singing and dancing to his favourite tunes 

And she said its fantastic to see her dad ‘loving life’ despite his disease – and become ‘so happy’ when listening to a thumping beat.

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

‘A lot of the time, it makes people become 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’s absolutely loving life now.

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

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

Rebecca said it was a ‘breath of fresh air’ to see her father enjoy himself and said he has some ‘crazy moves’. She added he loves to sing over the TV, which her mother is not too happy about 

‘And he just has these crazy moves – you can just tell he’s just so happy, and it just really brings him back to life.’

Rebecca, a senior support worker with the council, began to worry that her dad was suffering from a memory disorder after he was robbed on a night out.

She said: ‘The two men had stolen £500 out of his bank accounts because he’d kept his pin number in his wallet.

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

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

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

Pictured: Eddie, who is a big fan of Elvis but also likes all genre of music, dancing in the family's garden

Pictured: Eddie, who is a big fan of Elvis but also likes all genre of music, dancing in the family’s garden 

‘And that’s when we started having quite a lot of concerns really.’

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

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

She said: ‘My dad’s always liked music, we’ve always got music on in the house.

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

‘After, we had a few drinks at home – and my dad was just up jumping and dancing.’

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

Rebecca and Eddie with their family. In spite of his prognosis, Eddie has remained upbeat and

Rebecca and Eddie with their family. In spite of his prognosis, Eddie has remained upbeat and 

She added: ‘Then I think it was Father’s Day, I just bought him some headphones to see how he liked them, and he really, really took to them.

‘I don’t think my mum was too pleased. She was trying to watch the TV, but my dad was just singing above it. He absolutely loved it.’

What is Alzheimer’s?

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

This disrupts the transmitters that carry 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 HAPPENS?

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

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

The progress of the disease is slow and gradual. 

On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live for ten to 15 years.

EARLY SYMPTOMS:

  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulties dealing with money or making a phone call 

LATER SYMPTOMS:

  • Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated over inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior 
  • Eventually lose ability to walk
  • May have problems eating 
  • The majority will eventually need 24-hour care   

 Source: Alzheimer’s Association

 

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Rebecca said Eddie’s favourite singer is Elvis, but he is quite happy to bop along to any song with a beat regardless of its genre.

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

‘One of his favourite Elvis songs is “Suspicious Minds” but he also loves “Bad to Me” by Billy J Kramer and “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holland.

‘He still goes to one of the pubs every Monday between 2.00-7.00 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 used to do “the stomp” and he tries to show it to 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 upbeat despite his chronic prognosis.

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

‘And there are days when the family does struggle because he repeats himself. He forgets everything.

‘But in general, he’s just really happy, and It’s lovely to be around him because he’s just so happy, and he makes me happy – and that’s all I focus on.’

Grace Meadows, campaign director at campaign group Music for Dementia, which calls for people with the illness to have music as an integral part of their care, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see how Eddie is moved and brought back to life by music.

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

‘It can help people with Alzheimer’s in so many other ways too, providing a channel through which to manage symptoms of the conditions and emotions.

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

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

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