On my walk yesterday, I listened to Sally Magnusson being interviewed about the publication of her new book Where Memories Go. In the interview Sally discusses how she and her family lived and coped with their mother's slip into the many stages of dementia. It was a wonderful interview, full of warmth, love, sadness and hope.
Towards the end of the interview Sally talked about the efficacy of music and how music has been shown to improve dementia sufferers' awareness and ability to understand as well as their mood. An example was given of how music can be used with a patient who becomes very agitated about having a bath. By playing music in their room, especially familiar music, say for half an hour before the proposed bath, the patient's mood can be vastly improved enabling them to face the bathing process in a much calmer state.
Sally has launched Playlist for Life which provides patients with iPods loaded with bespoke playlists. "Song, more than anything else, is what kept my mother with us. Hymns, Scots ballads, war songs, The Sound of Music...They never lost their magical capacity to restore to her a sense of identity and to bring words fluently, often joyfully to her tongue."
Do you know someone whose loved one is suffering from dementia? Perhaps this book will help in understanding the disease better, coming to grips with the various agencies and the help they can give or cannot give, reading the words of someone gifted in writing put down on paper perhaps what you cannot, and especially the use of music in bringing hope.
"The aim now is to do a piece of major world-leading research into its efficacy. Already we have seen one person after another reconnected to their loved ones and to their selves, through sharing music from their past," said Magnusson. "There is little that is hopeful about this condition but this is one thing."
If you would like to listen to the interview, go to BBC Radio, Religion & Ethics and scroll around until you find her!