They say music has the power to soothe the soul - and this couldn’t be more true for John ‘Sean’ O’Malley.
The 78-year-old from Australia has dementia, which can leave him incredibly agitated and distressed at times.
But when you play Elvis Presley songs to him, it’s like waving a magic wand.
His mood is instantly calmed and he can often be found bopping along the corridors of the the dementia unit at Blacktown Hospital, Sydney, with a huge smile on his face.
“When Sean first came in to see us, he was very agitated. He would try to leave the hospital every day because he had an idea in his mind that his daughter was in trouble,” Katie Conciatore, clinical nurse consultant at Blacktown Hospital, told The Huffington Post Australia.
“And so we would have to call her numerous times, daily. In his eyes, there was an unmet need that had to be fixed.”
But when they put music on in the wards - specifically tunes from Mr Presley himself - O’Malley’s mood would completely change.
“He listens to it constantly and dances around the halls. It settles him, reduces his stress and makes him much calmer to interact with,” Conciatore said.
The hospital has a ‘Music and Memory’ program, where patients are given iPods filled with their favourite tracks.
A video of O’Malley tearing it up in the corridors of the hospital has been shared on Facebook, where it’s been viewed more than 29,000 times.
“His whole behaviour has changed,” said O’Malley’s daughter Trish Scerri. “At home we haven’t been so worried about how it’s going here at hospital.
“We know that this music has brought a lot of happiness.”
Dr Louise Walker, research officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said music has been found to help people with dementia “communicate, improve their mood and leave them feeling good about themselves”.
“Singing, playing with instruments and listening to music are not just pleasant pastimes,” she told The Huffington Post UK. “They are a tremendous way to unite people with dementia with family and friends so they can express themselves and socialise with others.
“Many people with dementia are still able to enjoy music and sing even when they start to lose their language abilities.”