Music tops medication for Carnwath couple

A Carnwath couple know just how beneficial a Playlist for Life can be.

Malcolm and Carol Topper created a personal playlist which is helping them both.

And they were more than happy to share their story to allow the charity to promote the service, as part of its World Alzheimer’s Day campaign today (September 21).

Playlist for Life is calling for health and social care workers to learn how to swap medicine for music to support people living with dementia.

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Working with care homes, NHS wards and Higher Education institutions across the UK, Playlist for Life trains health and social care teams to use music as the first line of treatment before medication.

In one care home near Glasgow, staff who introduced the policy reported a 60 per cent reduction in the use of medication to calm anxiety for people living with dementia.

That will come as no surprise to Malcolm and Carol Topper from Carnwath, who have used Playlist for Life to great effect too.

When Carol (55) was diagnosed with early onset dementia, the couple, who have been married for 17 years, turned to a local church which runs dementia support groups and were assisted in building a personalised playlist.

Malcolm (59) cares for Carol at home and has found the playlist to be an incredible support, helping to stabilise his wife’s mood as well as assisting her memory.

He said: “Carol went into a world of her own after her diagnosis and I was trying everything to support her, anyway I could. Since discovering Playlist for Life she has completely transformed.

“The whole experience has been a brilliant bonding exercise as we go through songs which bring back good times and feelings.

"Being a carer for someone, no matter their condition, is incredibly hard.

"I would urge anyone in the same position to consider looking into building their own playlist as it’s been an excellent tool, not just with helping improve Carol’s mood, but my own mood and outlook on life too.

"Together we’re going to keep adding tracks to our playlists, making even more memories in the process.”

When Carol received her diagnosis four years ago, she believed her life was over.

She said: “I was in an incredibly dark place. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I couldn’t stop crying, I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I shut down emotionally.

“I was persuaded to visit the St Andrew’s Church group in Carluke and was made to feel incredibly welcome. Straight away they introduced me to Playlist for Life and helped me pull my playlist together.

“Since then, I haven’t looked back. The difference in my overall mood is unbelievable.

"I’m a firm believer that the mental stimulus from recalling not just the memories associated with a certain soundtrack, but the artist’s name and all the lyrics has really helped slow down the rate of my condition.

"I can remember every song word in my playlist when it comes on, yet I struggle to remember what I had for breakfast that morning.

“As soon as my playlist is on, nothing else matters; the happiness it brings me is truly wonderful.”

To find out more about the charity, visit