Rainbow switch

Somewhere over the rainbow is a truly magical song !

I mean this in more than just a ‘wow great song’ way …. I mean – TRULY MAGICAL !

There are many blogs which agree !
blogshttp://drtombibey.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/music-therapy-somewhere-over-the-rainbow/

Earlier this week I was doing a reminiscence show based on the theme of days out and seaside trips …. At one point I put on a plastic mack and rain hat and clutch old fashioned thermos … And refer to the often inclement weather on British seaside holidays …. But how magical it is when the sun breaks through … And there is a beautiful rainbow ….. Cue song …..!

On the very first bar of the song – I had probably only sung the famous 2 octave apart notes – a lady who had been silently hunched with closed eyes …. sat upright and opened her eyes which sparkled and smiled … And remained alert and clearly ‘joyful’ throughout the song ! Magic !

Another previously sleepy lady started tapping her foot in time and another mirroring my hand movements – embracing the music !

This is not a one off – of all the hundreds of songs I sing or play in hundreds of settings with people with various levels and types of dementia – this is amongst the most ‘triggering’ switch ones!

I have thought about why – and of course it is connected to the minor key, the octave leap ( maybe registered by hard of hearing ) , the words …. But of course a lot of these ladies and gents were adolescents when ‘Wizard of Oz’ was released – technicolor and all ! So their brains were at a highly sensitive stage of development … Memory thrown down and embedded with a big plonk !

There have been some wet eyes and cheeks too …. But a) I think tears are a sign of being alive and b) I follow it up with ‘luvely bunch of coconuts’!

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MY PLACE !!

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My somewhat obsessive behaviour about feeling ‘right’ within a space …. seems to be getting even more obsessive as the years go by !  So I reckon that in x years time if I were to be in a care home setting I would be an utter nightmare for carers !!!  ‘Can’t sit here!  I want to sit there! She’ll have to move then !!!’

The other day I was half way through a reminiscence show when a lovely lady ( who was enjoying the show) started asking for something – quietly….  I went close to her and heard her more clearly – she wanted to move position in the room – gesturing towards a spot where another lady was sat ! She was in a wheelchair so I said I was not good at wheelchairs but when the carer came back in she could try to move…..( I carried on singing and defused the situation for a while!)  The lady was happy – but she asked again after the end of the show….  so I found a carer and mentioned the request…..  she immediately came and found a solution with a little bit of chair moving!  Not all carers to be honest might have responded so promptly – and I do understand – after all it would be tricky to respond to absolutely every individual request all the time……….  but I must say this is one request I was VERY sensitive to !  I know how agitated I feel ( without dementia) when I am not sitting where I feel comfortable!

I get wierd if I have my back to the room in a cafe….  or sat too close to where the loos are….. or sat with back to view…. or….. well – I am picky !!  But I CAN express my requirements and nearly always be where I want to be!  Sounds can annoy me too – too much noise, too little noise, wrong kind of noise…  TV on at volume that is barely audible ( rather have it louder or OFF!)   This list is quite long – all these little personal quirks of likes and dislikes !  And actually I am quite an easy going person !

So some of that agitated behaviour seen in a person with a dementia might be nothing more than – sat in the wrong place?  Too warm…. too cold ( I hate sitting under the air conditioning vent in coffee shops!)…. chair too high, too low….  too many cushions…. not enough… !!!  I know compromises have to be made – but maybe sometimes a simple adjustment could make a world of difference?  Just a thought !

Ah ……  the other side of this could be simply – ‘that’s MY place!’ – It’s where I feel at home, secure and safe?

When it comes to personal obsessions about environmental needs – my biggest one is – getting outside and close to nature – tress, birdsong etc…..  this is an interesting post on that very subject :-

Back to nature – a bit of "natural" Twitter brings huge benefits….

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Recommended Reading

Always great to read blogs from individuals dealing with the actual experience of dementia from inside there own head ! Good blog – I agree !

Exploring Dementia

I stumbled across a blog today that I wanted to recommend to everyone who wants to read a wonderful first-person account of what it is like to have vascular dementia.  The posts I have read so far show a warm and witty desire to share her experiences and insight with others.  Titles range from “Dementia Takes on the Kitchen” to “Vascular Dementia’s Effect on Marriage and Commitment,” and many other topics.  I look forward to reading more of her work, and wish her the best in her struggles.

http://www.healthcentral.com/profiles/c/6509

Enjoy!

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Literally!

My blogs are very much straight from the horses mouth ….( strange expression come to think of it !)…

My gosh …. I use loads of strange expressions, sayings, malapropisms…. Don’t we all ?!

So how does this all work out when it comes to communication with people with a dementia I wonder ?

I think it is a fascinating part of our rich world of words!

To be continued …..but I am at the Edinburgh Fringe at the moment …. So off for more words !!! ….

Back live ! ( another expression !)

So – here’s my thoughts on non-literal language use – based on personal experience in communicating with people with various dementias …

Many articles will advise against using metaphor, idiom etc as it is confusing for the listener … But I am not so sure about this . Surely it is more about the WAY in which you communicate more than the specific words. Expressions that have been widely used over the decades certainly seem to trigger response ….. Elbow grease, glad rags, Sunday best, waste not want not, all dressed up and nowhere to go, icing on the cake, …. Daft as a brush ! I agree that newer expressions might not work too well …. Totally wicked !?!

But when I am using the expression I am also using body language, context and facial expression …. So that’s the main part of the communication – non verbal as its called ….

I have certainly listened to metaphor-rich stories or chattering from people with a dementia …. Infact there are many insights to be had from careful listening to meaning behind and beyond the literal …. After all – surely the oft expressed plea ‘I want to go home’ is using the notion of home as ‘safe secure and familiar’ …..

Word finding difficulty is a common problem in some types of dementia http://jlhede.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/what-is-frontotemporal-dementia/ – and of course every person remains an individual – and I am only sharing my own experiences …. It is just another way of looking at things perhaps to consider if the less precise and literal WE are in our words the less pressure the LISTENER might feel in attempting to find precise words ….?

I once had a poetry making session with some lovely ladies and gents in a hampshire care home … A total blast ( yet another daft expression !?!) ….
I took a coconut and wooden mixing spoon along as props to trigger of and inspire poetry ! Trust me – it worked ! The objects took on characteristics and relationships … And a story …. Now if that isn’t playing around with non-literal … ?! I will find that poem and post it on here …. Keep looking !

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Metaphors and muddles

My blogs are very much straight from the horses mouth ….( strange expression come to think of it !)…

My gosh …. I use loads of strange expressions, sayings, malapropisms…. Don’t we all ?!

So how does this all work out when it comes to communication with people with a dementia I wonder ?

I think it is a fascinating part of our rich world of words!

To be continued …..but I am at the Edinburgh Fringe at the moment …. So off for more words !!! ….

Back live ! ( another expression !)

So – here’s my thoughts on non-literal language use – based on personal experience in communicating with people with various dementias …

Many articles will advise against using metaphor, idiom etc as it is confusing for the listener … But I am not so sure about this . Surely it is more about the WAY in which you communicate more than the specific words. Expressions that have been widely used over the decades certainly seem to trigger response ….. Elbow grease, glad rags, Sunday best, waste not want not, all dressed up and nowhere to go, icing on the cake, …. Daft as a brush ! I agree that newer expressions might not work too well …. Totally wicked !?!

But when I am using the expression I am also using body language, context and facial expression …. So that’s the main part of the communication – non verbal as its called ….

I have certainly listened to metaphor-rich stories or chattering from people with a dementia …. Infact there are many insights to be had from careful listening to meaning behind and beyond the literal …. After all – surely the oft expressed plea ‘I want to go home’ is using the notion of home as ‘safe secure and familiar’ …..

Word finding difficulty is a common problem in some types of dementia http://jlhede.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/what-is-frontotemporal-dementia/ – and of course every person remains an individual – and I am only sharing my own experiences …. It is just another way of looking at things perhaps to consider if the less precise and literal WE are in our words the less pressure the LISTENER might feel in attempting to find precise words ….?

I once had a poetry making session with some lovely ladies and gents in a hampshire care home … A total blast ( yet another daft expression !?!) ….
I took a coconut and wooden mixing spoon along as props to trigger of and inspire poetry ! Trust me – it worked ! The objects took on characteristics and relationships … And a story …. Now if that isn’t playing around with non-literal … ?! I will find that poem and post it on here …. Keep looking !

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Whose Shoes? A catalyst for change in health and social care

Today I have the honour and the pleasure of hosting a blogpost that gives real insights into the life of someone living with dementia. But surely, I hear you ask, this whole “in my shoes” series is aiming to do this? Well, it is building the big picture of dementia from many different perspectives – all adding huge value – but this is the first blogpost actually written by someone living with dementia – and I hope we will have more.
This is the most important perspective of all.

Norman (or Norrms as he is known) is a rather special person. While others are planning and researching dementia-friendly cities, Norrms and his pals in Torbay are getting on and doing it! Such a practical approach – just walking into public places such as shops and cinemas, talking to them and leaving some leaflets – and then following up to see if they understand…

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Musical Bubbles

‘….good – that’s finished …. Awful music !’

Glad to say that wasn’t said in response to my show ! It was just before the show … When the carer turned off the cd of classical music playing in the lounge! Elderly people must like classical music .. Obviously a daft assumption – but easy trap to fall into !

I am very aware of this issue of ‘musical tastes’ when I put my pieces together … Or play music whilst setting up etc …. Something like ‘ Harry Seacombe ‘ seems reasonably universally acceptable .. Harry Seacombe

Makes you think more generally about individual tastes and assumptions doesn’t it ? Do these disappear in the maelstrom of dementia ? Not from what I have witnessed ! In some ways individual quirks can be highlighted when social niceties and norms are forgotten and inhibitions trampled down !
http://ateightyone.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/porridge-and-stuff/
I like Will Young….. But my man really doesn’t … He likes Nora Jones…. She doesn’t really do it for me …. But we are almost the same age …. See… Obvious really isn’t it ! I like ‘Come Dine with me’ on TV for mindless background …. He likes …Tour de France ….. Er …..

Having said all this however I wonder if there are some songs that spread themselves across all tastes …. I certainly have ‘collective’ switch on songs that I keep discovering through trial and error ….. ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ being the latest one I hit upon during a ‘high days and holidays’ reminiscence session last week …. What might it be for my generation I wonder ….. Donny Osmund’s Puppy Love ?!

On subject of music – just spotted this blog which I found thought provoking http://noustuff.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/songs-sound-less-sad-when-youre-older/

…. Mind you … Ever noticed how ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ gets pretty much all eyes watery !

Vive la difference!

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Imagining the past, remembering the future: Charles Fernyhough at the Royal Institution

Smell triggers are very powerful ! But also this piece makes you think generally about the magic of memory and brain bits!

Imagining the past, remembering the future: Charles Fernyhough at the Royal Institution.

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Cuddly cortex

Take a look at the photo on the 1953 Woman’s Own … Now picture the situation I found myself in the other day …..

There was I – in a lovely Hampshire County Council care home in Gosport – towards the end of a reminiscence piece about the year 1953 …. Residents of mixed stages of dementia ….

I mention the various souvenirs of the coronation and show this magazine around … A lot of ‘ahhhs’ ensue !

Then one lady goes a step further with her response – she wants to ‘hold’ him …. ‘him’ being a 4 year old Prince Charles! But of course it was just a photo of him – not the real thing ! I was really struck by the strong instinctive urge to ‘cuddle’ !

Well – no surprise really – we all like cuddling don’t we !? Infact – the following day I was on the South Bank of the Thames … A city break …. There outside the Tate Modern was a group of assorted lads and lassies all holding little placards saying ‘Free Hugs’ ! Tentatively at first … I took my first freebie … Then relaxing into the idea … Took a further 6 ! Fabulous !

Keep on cuddling ! It’s a life force !

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Role Reversal Rules!

Carers deserve thoughtful training ideas like this – it is always a useful exercise to experience being in someone else’s shoes (www.whoseshoes.wordpress.com)
This training by www.fshc.co.uk looks interesting http://tinyurl.com/cjnsf3qhttps://trishalewis.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/20120705-090912

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Wimbledon lover or not?

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When I go into a care home to provide reminiscence shows or sessions…..  it is often the case that the TV has to be turned off !!  When it is a programme about decorating the house or such like…..  I don’t feel too bad !  But when it is Wimbledon I feel very aware that turning it off in the middle of a set point just might be REALLY annoying !  So it was with care that I did so today – and when one lady asked if she could carry on watching – I asked if there were other televisions – yes – in her room – well – that’s ok – would she like to go back to her room to carry on watching – yes – I will ask the carer to help……….  I did…….. because if that was me and the programme was – um – ‘Mad Men’ or ‘ The Apprentice’ ….. I think I would be a tad annoyed !!  We are after all – individuals – one persons Wimbledon is another persons ‘Alan Sugar’ and another persons……  ? 

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