Category Archives: Dementia: Therapeutic Activities

Living Instruments: Music and our brain

I attended an A cappella performance last night by MICappella and they did a rendition of the Iron Maiden Trooper, non-traditional and challenging but the song in itself is really epic and to hear it purely in vocals is mind blowing. Like living instruments in a fireworks display of sound, i imagine the synapsis that must be firing not just within the musicians but within the audience themselves as they watch the performance, lights, vocal, instruments but not instruments, as the mind tries to make sense of the event, following visually one musician to another identifying and piecing together the concert in their minds with sound and sight. During the concert, you can witness the happiness it brings as the crowd jives with the music, smiles lit up the room, think of the rush of dopamine and adrenaline during the song with a fast beat or tempo, all within a span of an hour or two.

What our human minds can do never cease to amaze me. I think of what a live A Cappella performance or a session could do for people with dementia. We talk about how music brings out our inner self and I believe many are familiar with the documentary Alive inside. Oliver Sacks in the video below is quoted as saying that “music can do things that language cannot”.

 

Music brings us alive, invoking memories, emotions, even actions; a gentle tap of the foot, drumming of fingers, a secret smile or a giggle when we associate a memory with the music. More needs to be done to bring arts and health together. We know the benefits of music when it comes to health, and even in the positive benefits in the reduction of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. Yet the streams of music and health continue to work in silos. How can we bring arts and health together to support the people, not just for entertainment but for physiological and cognitive benefits as well?

We certainly need to look into more ways in which we can utilise the beauty of music to support and provide culturally meaningful therapeutic interventions to the people with dementia. Understandably for many health care centres, the issues of cost, storage and even space for the provisions of  instruments are always an issueIf. With the numerous A cappella groups around the world, perhaps there should be an alignment with artist and healthcare professionals as a form of social responsibility to help the wider community. Music is the medicine that pills cannot provide. So how about A cappella, anyone?

The Art of Spoken Word & Dementia

Poetry sometimes for many of us who are not English Literature majors or come from a non-English speaking background, may sound like something that is really difficult and requires a high level of linguistic skill and perfection. However, poetry is found to be cathartic for many people with dementia and high therapeutic. So how do we get over that wall of stigma? For those who may wish to try an alternative, here is the Spoken Word.

This video above is an example of spoken word or some may call it spoken word poetry. The video above is performed by IN-Q, a professional spoken word artist. Spoken word unlike traditional poetry that is meant for paper is a contemporary high-energy performance of the heart, mind and soul. It embraces poetry, storytelling, theatre, and folk, jazz, hip hop and even R&B. It can be a performance by anyone of any age. Topics are mostly issues close to the heart and the home.

Bring spoken word to your home today and bring out the inner a spoken word artist in you. Here’s a video on how to write and perform Spoken Word by Khalil Smith.

Step 1: Brain Storming

Pick a topic that is personal and familiar. Think of words associated with the topic.

Step 2: Construction

Connect the words and carry out a process of association to enable word form and structure.

Step 3: Finalisation Phase

Writing and thinking of the tone and the beat.

Step 4: Performance

Memorise if possible, and add physical movements and ways to engage the audience.


 

For more spoken word performances please visit: http://blog.ted.com/10-spoken-word-performances-folded-like-lyrical-origami/. I’ll leave you with a spoken word performance by Raymond Antrobus Ode to his father’s dementia.

 

 

 

Australia’s Dogs 4 Dementia is Expanding!

Great news! Australia’s dogs 4 dementia program is expanding! Yeah! I remember seeing their booth at a dementia conference in 2012 thinking, wow I hope that this program continues to grow because it sure is a fantastic idea.

This is a collaboration between Hammondcare and Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA). A six to ten months training is required before the lovely dogs start assisting The assistance dogs can help to provide
– a routine
– help with reminders
– emotional support
– help around the house (close cupboards, pick up items etc.)

Here’s a video from ABC about Dogs 4 Dementia (See below), for an earlier post with more videos on dogs caring for people with dementia in Australia and in Scotland, read Happy National Dogs Day. Or click here for the ABC article on Dogs 4 Dementia.

An Amazing Music and Memory Program for Dementia

If you have 5 mins today, you’ve got to watch this video on music, memory and dementia that is being carried out in the Redleaf manor aged care home in New South Wales, Australia. The video (ABC iview-catalyst) shares with viewers insight into this new programme on personlised playlist that can greatly improve the quality of life and well-being of the individual.

The programme helps people to
– reconnect with family
– brings people out of their shell
– brings out positive emotions

Music should be accessible in all care facilities, and prescribed music can help to elevate agitation and reduce the use of antipsychotics (medications)in a study by Standford University.

Music is the only stimulus that activates a range of centres in the brain, aside from memories (temporal lobe and amygdala), music also touches on the movement centres and emotional. This gives answers to the reactions that occur when a person with dementia listens to music despite the progressive deterioration of the brain.

Looking back at our infants, how many of us have played music or sang our babies to sleep? In prelinguistic stages, the environment consists of music and sounds of happiness or sadness or fear. Babies react to the powerful effect of music.

Music is a powerful medium that it is pivotal to our brain’s health.

You can watch the 30min episode here but it’s only available for people living in Australia
http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/catalyst/SC1502H006S00, for those living outside of Australia you can try this link http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4421003.htm .

Care staff gets a taste of living with dementia

Oxford Brookes University has devised a training programme to help staff working with people with dementia to come close to understanding the experience of living with dementia. This programme is carried out by a facilitator and participants have to wear a stimulation suit as part of the process. This aids the experiential learning process and creates some awareness of the needs of the individual with dementia.

The programme has proved to be successful and has helped care workers to better understand the experience of living with dementia; and in turn influence and improve the quality of care that they provide to the people they care for.

You can read more about the programme here here http://www.chc.brookes.ac.uk/training/dementia-simulation

 

 

Mindfulness & Empowerment

A beautiful and empowering video on understanding mindfulness and how it can help us. The video allows everyone from young and old to have a glimpse into what Mindfulness can do for you and how it can empower you to be a better person and live a better life no matter the age.

A Video by National Geographic on Animal therapy

A video by National Geographic on animal therapy & Llamas in residential aged care:D

At this nursing home, animals—including llamas—are sometimes able to bring the residents out of their shells in ways that previously seemed impossible.