‘I am human too’: South Asian older women’s group records song to raise awareness of dementia

  • 16th May 2023

An older women’s group run in Bristol by Dhek Bhal has recorded a song called ‘Meh V Insaan Hu’ (‘I am human too’) to raise awareness and understanding of dementia within the South Asian community.

Evidence suggests that people with dementia from some ethnic minority backgrounds face barriers in accessing culturally appropriate diagnosis, support and care.

Local charity and community organisation Dhek Bhal supports South Asian people with dementia living in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. They provide services such as respite breaks, a day centre and at-home care.

Bristol Health Partners’ Dementia Health Integration Team secured NHS Charities Together funding for Dhek Bhal to run a culturally appropriate programme, which would convey important messages about challenging stigma and improving understanding of dementia within the South Asian community.

After consulting with members and service users, Dhek Bhal chose to do this through a singing group, as singing can help people with dementia develop and maintain relationships with others and improve their wellbeing.

Zehra Haq, Dhek Bhal CEO and project leader, commissioned Bristol musician Dildar Singh from Bhangra band RSVP to compose an original song in Punjabi – ‘Meh V Insaan Hu’, which translates into English as ‘I am human too’. Members of Dhek Bhal’s older women’s group undertook a programme of several weeks’ learning, mentoring and performance to enable them to record the song in a professional recording studio, and they now aim to continue the singing sessions.

Dhek Bhal has released a CD of the track for Dementia Awareness Week, 15-21 May 2023.

Shakila cares for her mother, who has dementia. She said:

“My mum and I really enjoyed the singing sessions. Usually she is reserved in a group, but because everyone was having fun, she opened up. We had a lot of fun when we recorded the song too, as none of us had ever been in a recording studio.

“Music is so important to people with dementia, as old songs are often something they can remember, but I was surprised that my mum managed the learn the words to this new song too. It shows how important it is for people with dementia to take part in group activities wherever possible.”

Zehra Haq said:

“The song title is Meh V Insaan Hu – I am human too. It tells the story of the sounds of our lives, the messages we hear from society. How at different stages in our lives our guidance via belief and our worldly journey affirms, acknowledges, and even stigmatises elderly people suffering from dementia.  The key message of the song is nothing has changed as it is the same person, only the person is now unwell and has dementia.”

“On behalf of Dhek Bhal, I’d like to say a huge thank you to NHS Charities Together for providing funding for us to do this important work within our community.”