Tuesday, 29 January 2013

TED and a dementia story

My friend's Dad, who is 90 later this year, has what is described as "a little bit of dementia." He lives alone in his own home, and is relatively independent for his age. But over the last couple of years my friend had noticed that his memory and his mood had started to deteriorate.

"Every time I said something positive, he hit me with the negative. The dementia seemed to accelerate if he was socially isolated for long periods."

At first, it wasn't clear what might help, but my friend suddenly hit on an idea after watching an inspiring online video from TED talks. TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design)  is a global conference set-up run by a non-profit organisation called the Sapling Foundation, and has taken off big-time online. You can watch inspirational talks from speakers on almost any topic imaginable (climate change, health, science & technology, to name but a few).

My friend had downloaded the TED app to use on her tablet, and then searched "mental health" issues. Whilst browsing she came across a talk called "Music is medicine, music is sanity," by Robert Gupta, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra who is also passionate about neurobiology and mental health issues. You can link to the video and watch it here.

Enthused by what she had seen, my friend encouraged her Dad to join a local singing group ("he has a magnificent voice,") as a form of music therapy, and after initial reluctance he was soon thriving in amongst new-found friends participating in an activity which he clearly much enjoyed.

"The increased activity and reduced isolation has improved his mental health, which has also impacted on his dementia.... the music therapy and activity has changed his mindset. Now he is keen, enthusiastic, and can remember things better."

Here at Powys Mental Health we are looking at providing more information about the dementia support you can access locally in the county, and we have just set up some information pages on our website which you can link to here.

Do you know someone with dementia? Let us know if you have ideas about support which have worked.

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