How music is fighting dementia in Sunderland

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AN Alzheimer’s sufferer has turned to music in his battle to keep on top of the condition.

Ken Payne, from Silksworth, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease six months ago.

Last month, the 60-year-old former social housing manager and guitarist took to the stage at music events around the city as part of Dementia Awareness Week.

The theme of this year’s awareness week was ‘don’t bottle it up’.

Father-of-two Ken said: “I think this week is a very good idea and I’m happy to get involved.

“My advice to people who have concerns or fears about dementia, and are burying their heads in the sand, is that they should talk about it.

“I’d encourage people to go and see their GP so they can act and, if necessary, book you in for a brain scan so they can get to the bottom of whatever the issue is.

“I try and keep my mind active with singing and playing guitar, as well as my other hobbies and business, because if I was just sitting here doing nothing, I think it could have a nasty effect on the dementia.

“Keeping active to support other people means you are focusing on what you have always done and always remember how to deliver.”

The grandfather-of-three was diagnosed after doctors thought his behaviour may have changed due to deep vein thrombosis.

After undergoing a series of tests, he was given the diagnosis. He is now taking medication to slow down the progression of dementia.

He added: “I’m glad I sought help. I didn’t want it to have any negative effect on my family, and I also wanted to find out if there was any way to put it right.

“I am still living a full and happy life.”

Ken, who is married to June, also 60, is a registered volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society and Gentoo and a trustee of the Dementia Care board.

He also busks regularly at the Smuggler’s and Harbour View pubs, Roker.

Ken added: “Trying to encourage people to recognise that it is something that could have a nasty impact on their lives is important.”

Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, and more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. It adds that in less than 10 years, a million people will be living with dementia.

This will soar to 1.7million people by 2051.

Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline is 0300 222 1122.