“My family’s experience showed me the happiness that young people can bring into the lives of people with dementia”, by singer Pixie Lott, Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Research UK
Young people can bring something special to people with dementia, says Pixie Lott.
Singer, songwriter and actress Pixie, 26, says: “I have seen what Alzheimer’s and dementia can do to a person and their family. My dad’s mum, nanny Bennett, died of vascular dementia in 2014. She had been a strong woman, unafraid to speak her mind and who stood up for what she believed in.
I have seen what Alzheimer’s and dementia can do to a person and their family.
“Dementia changed her personality and turned her in to a shell of her former self. Towards the end she had to have everything done for her and I remember dad asking her to blink if she knew we were there.”
Pixie’s maternal grandmother, nanny Martin, had Alzheimer’s disease. “She loved to see me sing and dance as a child but was diagnosed before my first single so never saw my success,” says Pixie. “For both of them the first sign was being unable to remember the names of their grandchildren. At the time we did not take it very seriously but it went on from there.
“Now the family knows a lot more about dementia symptoms and what to expect. It’s tough, but it means we also know how to help.”
Pixie’s events for Alzheimer’s Research UK
“Get involved in fund raising and interact with people who have dementia.” Photo: Alex Wallace Photography
Pixie’s love for her grandparents inspired her to get involved with Alzheimer’s Research UK. “Research has meant that there are drugs that can help in the early stages and we understand more clearly what happens and how better to help people affected by dementia.”
In June this year she helped her uncle Ricky organise a football match between semi-professional players and a team of celebrities, including Pixie’s fiance, model Oliver Cheshire, The Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge plus her husband and ex-professional footballer Wayne Bridge, tennis coach Judy Murray, comedian and presenter Matt Richardson, Downton Abbey’s Matt Barber, TV and YouTube star Luke Franks, and musician Hobbie Stuart. The charity event raised over £3,700 to power life-changing research.
Since then Pixie has organised an acoustic music night at a local pub, and supports Alzheimer’s Research UK on social media and with press interviews.
Judy Murray got involved in Pixie’s charity football match. Photo: Alex Wallace Photography
Young people getting involved with dementia
Pixie firmly believes that young people should be encouraged to interact with people who have dementia, and that doing so can bring benefits to both.
“Being around young people and children seems to really help people with dementia, and happiness can improve health,” she says. “I think that music can create that happiness too. I was once passing Nanny Bennett’s care home and called in with my guitarist. We sang her a song and it was the first time I had seen her smile in ages. I want to help more people with dementia smile – that’s why I support Alzheimer’s Research UK.”
I want to help more people with dementia smile – that’s why I support Alzheimer’s Research UK.
But you do not have to be a celebrity to help people with dementia, she says. “Talk about it to raise awareness, get involved in fund raising and interact with people who have dementia.”
Many young people do not come into contact with dementia, but they should not be afraid of it, she says. “When you first come into contact with dementia, it can be alien and worrying, but a bit of kindness and patience can make a huge difference. Telephone, visit, sing with your loved-one, look through old photographs together. Simple things can make people feel less alone.”
Young people – and others – who want to learn more about dementia and how they can help people who have it, can visit www.dementiaexplained.org.
The full team including Oliver Cheshire, Frankie Bridge, Wayne Bridge, Judy Murray, Matt Richardson, Matt Barber, Luke Franks and Hobbie Stuart. Photo: Alex Wallace Photography