Dementia and triggers for communication

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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In the shoes of Tony Jameson-Allen | Co-founder of The Sporting Memories Network C.I.C

Knowing the chat and laughs sparked off by 1940’s footballer cigarette cards during a reminiscence session – I totally support this project !

In the shoes of Tony Jameson-Allen | Co-founder of The Sporting Memories Network C.I.C.

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Instant mood change

Instant mood change!

This is inspiring and relevant to all those involved with caring for someone who has a dementia …. Read on !

I was doing my ‘majestic memories’ reminiscence show (www.trishalewis.com) in a care home this morning – a home I have regularly visited over the years …. And a show I have done ‘umpteen times over last few weeks in celebration of Diamond Jubilee ….. But something was wrong ….. A usually bright and engaged lady was sat expressionless and in stony silence….and I felt her mood …. But i had to carry on with upbeat show …. 2 songs in and some interesting triggers explored …. And still no change … No interaction …. My whole being was having to work hard to resist the drag of the powerful wave of this mood…. Was it anger …was it depression …. Was it sadness …. Disapproval ….? One thing i knew for certain was I wouldn’t humour her or force interaction ….. I carried on ….even a rendition of Gracie Fields ‘If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake ‘ didn’t reach this lady … Who normally loves singing ….. So …. Song number 4 … ‘on the street where you live ‘ …. Still no change ….. And then the switch … This is how it happened …

ME: I love that song …. It’s from that musical isn’t it … Um . What was it called ( i knew in reality ) …. Er …..
MY…..

LADY: ….Bonnie Líes over The ocean’

ME: Oh – I love that song – how does it go … (i start to sing softly ) …

LADY: ( taking over) (sings 2 verses with gusto) !

( this wasn’t part of my 1953 reminiscence show …. But who cares …. All I cared about was the unlocking of this lady’s mood …. !)

It didn’t stop there ….. From that moment on – till I was packing up and saying goodbyes …. And I suspect beyond …. Her mood was completely transformed ! She sang, she reminisced …. She was interested … Engaged …. Smiling …. Dancing ( seated dancing ) to ‘Boomps a daisy’ … Laughing … Interacting with other residents ( who in turn were caught up in her joyous mood )!

The lesson …… Don’t give up …. One positive aspect of dementias is that moods can alter in a second … Finding the trigger might be a bit hit and miss …. And shouldn’t be forced …. But it will come …. And the satisfaction is immense !

One word was all it took … A word with a pause after …. A space for the trigger to be taken and expressed …. MY …. ( ok so it was ‘my fair lady ‘) …. My ….. ( an individual’s word association) …. My ….. ‘ Bonnie lies over the ocean ‘! Fabulous !!!

And then …… Go with the flow !

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