Documentary on One

A Song for Kathleen

The story of 87 year old Kathleen Tierney who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but finds her spirit lifted and her health improve when she joins 'The Forget Me Nots' - a choir welcoming those affected by dementia an...

A Song for Kathleen

The Forget Me Nots Choir(photo by Kay Cairns)
The Forget Me Nots Choir(photo by Kay Cairns)

Just over a year ago, eighty seven year old Kathleen Tierney was released from hospital having spent the previous six months overcoming sudden weight loss. Kathleen had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January 2013 and had suffered two serious falls at her home in Kilbarrack. Despite family and home care support, it was looking increasingly likely that Kathleen would have to go into a nursing home which she did not want to do.

Her children, many of whom live locally, were determined to try and help her stay in her own home. Aside from arranging twenty four hour care for Kathleen, one of her daughters, Orla, took a more unusual route and set up a choir, The Forget Me Nots, specifically for people with dementia and Alzheimer's. Inspired by a similar choir on Dublin's southside, Orla established the choir in their local community of Baldoyle.

During the documentary, we hear some of the wonderful voices that sing in the choir, we hear stories of how people with dementia who might be unresponsive day to day, can suddenly recall the words to songs they heard as a child or were taught in school. Grainne, the choral director tells us about the therapeutic effect that music can have.

What has surprised those involved, is just how well, Kathleen and the others are doing since they have started to attend the choir. Singing nostalgic songs, chosen by the choir members, the room is filled with beautiful voices singing old time melodies and songs from well-known musicals.

We also meet Frankie, Kathleen's 10 year grandson who is a regular visitor to his grandmother at her home. Like his granny, mother, Karen, and Aunty, Orla, Frankie is very musical, he occasionally attends the choir and is learning to play the trumpet, much to his granny's delight!

Kathleen thoroughly enjoys the choir, her mood has lifted, her health has improved and she is back living at home. Every Tuesday, she and her friends and family go along to practice in Baldoyle Community Hall to sing songs of yesteryear.

Narrated and produced by Elayne Devlin

Production Supervision by Sarah Blake

First Broadcast 26th July 2014

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Documentary maker: Elayne Devlin

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Documentary maker: Sarah Blake

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