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The Musical Path through Dementia

20 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 28 July 2010

For 10 years former headmaster, Edward Jones, cared for his wife as she became lost in her own world through dementia; he discovered that music was the link that continued to connect her to this world and to him. Whether it was his own self-taught piano playing or CDs of everything from Beethoven to Bob Dylan, music built a bridge to their past life: all five children had played instruments, she herself the clarinet. Music would calm her, as would reading to her - she used to be an English lecturer.

Familiar with TS Eliot's exhortation that old men ought to be explorers, Edward considered there could be no better ground for him to explore than the care of a beloved. "In these ways I kept my wife with me. We remained very close. Most of the elements that make up the round of daily human life had been stripped away; only the essence of what had existed between us - that thing we call love - remained, and it was wonderful."

Two years after her death, Edward remembers the life and love that cannot, in Rilke's words, be "cancelled" and continues to be grateful for the closeness her last years brought them.

  • For more information about living with dementia, visit BBC Headroom

    For more information about living with dementia, visit BBC Headroom

    BBC Headroom


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