Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Monday, 27 October 2014

"No place to be ending but somewhere to start...."

There has been much publicity recently about the work of the charity PlayList for Life and their work
encouraging the use of personally meaningful music on iPods in the care and treatment of people with dementia. They are currently collaborating with Glasgow Caledonian University and other academic partners on a research project to measure the efficacy, constraints and economic advantages of offering personal music on iPods to people with dementia in different care settings.

 The idea was developed 2013 by broadcaster Sally Magnusson following the death of her mother after a long struggle with the condition.
Read more 
"Evidence suggests that the personal nature of the music is what triggers autobiographical memory, renews a sense of identity and gives someone who spends a lot of time feeling ‘out of it’ a wonderful feeling of belonging".
"Compiling a playlist of a person’s life requires you to get to know them better and sharing it with them – through listening together – makes conversation gloriously possible again, even if it remains one-way. Human interaction is what people with dementia desperately need and so frequently lack, often because those who love them become increasingly stumped at how to engage them. Sharing a playlist brings people together.  That in itself is a therapy for dementia.  For those in the healthcare sector this approach embodies all the principles of person-centred care."

They go on to offer some really helpful tips to decide what to use and how to compile a playlist for life (click here) with someone who is already experiencing dementia with some really useful ideas for starting conversations or doing a little detective work for example:
  • Did your relative go dancing in their youth? What songs or bands might they have listened to?
  • Did he or she go to the cinema and enjoy particular films?  Some of the old ones have memorable theme tunes.
  • Did he or she ever mention a particular radio or television show? A theme tune could prove evocative.  Some people have also responded to dialogue from familiar old programmes.
  • Did, or does, your relative go to church and enjoy hymns?  What are the favourites? A minister or priest, past or present, might have some suggestions.
  • What music did your mum or dad walk down the aisle to?  What hymns were sung at their wedding? Which songs did they dance to afterwards?
  • Did he or she go to Sunday School as a child, or was a member of the Boys’ Brigade, the Guides or Brownies, or the Scouts? They all have songs associated with them.
  • Did your relative sing in a choir – a church choir, perhaps – with a repertoire that others in the choir would remember if he or she does not? The current choir leader would know the perennial favourites.
  • Was there a school song that an old school-friend might remember?
  • Is your relative of an age to have been in the war, either at home or on the front, and familiar with wartime songs?  Which in particular?
  • Did your relative play the piano or another instrument?  Might there be old sheet music around to give you clues?
  • Did he or she play in a band ever? What did the band play?
  • Do you yourself remember any records being played at home?  Do you have them still? Might a relative or friend have records in the attic you could ask to see?
Why leave this until someone may be experiencing memory loss and dementia? How about we use some of these tips to have a conversation now with relatives/family/friends to help us understand the things that have helped shaped identity and that are still valued today?

In case you were wondering - the title of this post comes from Sade, Smooth Operator