Hazel’s story

MHA Music Therapy session image

Bringing joy

Music therapist Aisling has never been able to have a long conversation with 83-year-old Hazel – but she has sung entire songs with her.

“After a music therapy session, carers have seen that Hazel feels much happier, she engages in conversations more and in more activities in the home,” says Aisling, who works at MHA Heather Grange in Burnley. “Music therapy offers Hazel something to cling on to and it’s about sustaining that interaction for as long as possible.”

During these one-to-ones, Hazel becomes more animated and aware of the world around her. It is also common to see a smile appear across her face as she interacts with the music. It’s clear music therapy is helping Hazel to communicate when other forms of expression are no longer possible.

“Right away music therapy brought a bit of joy into Hazel’s life.”

Barbara, sister of 83-year-old MHA Heather Grange Hazel.

Losing her sparkle

Barbara, Hazels sister, describes her as a very cool person. At 18, Hazel learnt to play the piano and later taught herself the mandolin and clarinet. She was also an accomplished painter.

Before she became ill around five years ago, Hazel lived in Canada and was head of the occupational therapy department at Vancouver General Hospital. Around then, Hazel’s friends started to notice a change. A fiercely independent Hazel was losing her confidence, and decided she no longer wanted to paint or drive. “She lost her sparkle,” says Barbara.

Hazel was eventually diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies. She returned to England so she could be closer to family and receive the care she needed at MHA Heather Grange.

A sense of calm

Hazel can be very sleepy and disorientated. She can also lash out physically at those around her. Her dementia causes her to hallucinate which contributes to feelings of confusion and anxiety.

During one of her frequent weekly visits, Barbara noticed how much of an impact a group music therapy session had on Hazel. She saw that, unlike any other activity, music therapy was really engaging Hazel and creating a sense of calm in her. So, the home manager put Hazel forward for one-to-one music therapy sessions with Aisling.

See Hazel interacting with Aisling in music therapy in this short video.

Sadly, Hazel died in July 2019. Hazel’s family are happy for MHA to tell her story.

Discover how you can help MHA music therapists provide more moments of joy for people like Hazel.

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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