Cynthia’s story

MHA Music Therapy session - image of Cynthia

Glimpses of mum

80-year-old Cynthia, who has dementia, teaches her music therapist Laura to play the organ. “You just follow the notes, you see,” says Cynthia to Laura, during their sessions at MHA’s The Homestead in Oxfordshire.

For Cynthia, a special part of music therapy often involves playing her electric organ which her family donated to the care home. Playing it helps to pull Cynthia out of her anxiety and put her in a happy, joyful place – in the session and, for a period of time, following it.

“I get to see a glimpse of my old mum when she does music therapy,” says Gary, Cynthia’s son.

“Anything that puts people in a happier place is hugely positive. For me, I get to see a glimpse of my old mum when she does music therapy.”

Gary, son of 80-year-old former MHA The Homestead resident Cynthia

Getting diagnosed

When Cynthia’s husband died, after decades together, Cynthia was heartbroken. This, tragically, was followed by the death of their daughter two years later. Gary believes this emotional trauma may have triggered a decline in his mum’s health. He became concerned by her unusual behaviour, and Cynthia was eventually diagnosed with early-stage dementia.

After a number of accidents at home, Cynthia moved into The Homestead in 2017.

As her dementia worsened, Cynthia became very frustrated and agitated and would lash out at those around her. She began to spend increasing amounts of time in her room alone, because of the anxiety that moving around the home would cause her.

A happier place

Music therapy was recommended to help with this restlessness and anxiety. Staff hoped it would broaden Cynthia’s opportunities for social interaction. 

Indeed, socialising has always been part of Cynthia’s life. Her husband was in the RAF and she used to enjoy dressing up and dancing the night away at the many forces’ social events.

Before that, in her own family, Cynthia was known for being a very good dancer. She was always tap dancing up and down the hall in her home as a child.

Happily, music therapy has brought out this side of her character. Before she started it, Cynthia was reluctant to visit any other floors in the care home where she lives. It meant she missed out on opportunities for social interaction.

Now, she joins group music therapy sessions wherever they are taking place in the home, as her individual sessions have helped to reduce her anxiety.

“Anything that puts people in a happier place is hugely positive,” says Gary.

See Cynthia play the organ with music therapist Laura in this short video.

Help us create more moments of joy

MHA Music Therapy session image with instruments

The price of your favourite three tracks could help towards funding a music therapy session to help someone find their Moment of Joy

MHA Music Therapist session with musical instrument

The price of a monthly music streaming subscription could help fund a music therapy session to help find someone’s Moment of Joy

MHA Music Therapist session with musical instrument - Dr Ming

Could fund a one-to-one session with someone living with dementia


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