Category Archives: colonna1a

Alzheimer’s Society – North West England

A new singing group for people living with dementia is being launched by Alzheimer’s Society in Grange-over-Sands. Singing for the Brain® is a programme developed by Alzheimer’s Society for people with memory problems. The Singing for the Brain® programme promotes communication through singing which can help with articulation, concentration, focus and motivation. Specially trained facilitators deliver a varied programme of vocal, rhythmic and gentle physical exercise and dance, along with songs from different eras and styles.The new group has been made possible after a £1,500 donation from Grange-over-Sands Soroptimists International. President of the organisation, Janice Carrick, said: “Music is very dear to my heart and I had been inspired by visiting some of the Singing for the Brain sessions in Kendal. I felt that there must be a need for this wonderful service in Grange.  “As Soroptimist International is a service organisation, the club was keen to run a pilot of the programme to see if there was a need. Through producing an Edwardian Music Hall and kind donations we raised enough money to fund the pilot working with the Alzheimer’s Society and using our members as volunteers and facilitators.” It is hoped the sessions will begin on October 16 and run from 10.30am until 12.30pm in the Community Centre at Allithwaite. For more information on Singing for the Brain please contact dementia support worker Sue Scott or Justine McCoy, services manager, on 01539 742 631. Operations manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Cumbria, Deborah Parker, said: “Even when many memories are hard to retrieve, music can sometimes still be recalled – if only for a short while. The sessions help people with dementia communicate improving their mood and leaving them feeling good about themselves.”

Promoting communication and wellbeing for people with dementia through Sonas

Vol VII n.32

Promoting communication and wellbeing for people with dementia through Sonas

A group in Manchester uses an approach called Sonas to help people with dementia to express themselves. Danny Ratnaike reports on how activity may help communication.
Alison Williams, a speech and language therapist, says,
‘If someone is struggling with an aspect of communication, they shouldn’t be made to feel it’s their problem.’
‘Communication is always a partnership, a joint understanding of what’s being said.’
Alison co-founded a group in south Manchester nine years ago that provides a weekly opportunity for people with dementia to connect and express themselves.
Sonas group in south ManchesterHelen Day-Mayer, whose mother Jacqueline attended for three years, says,
‘The sessions made me aware that while Mum’s speech had largely gone, there were plenty of other ways to communicate with her by using her other senses much more.’

Alison leads a speech and language therapy team at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and set the group up with Admiral Nurse Loraine Butterworth. They chose an approach called Sonas – Irish Gaelic for ‘wellbeing’ – that uses a range of structured, multisensory activities.
Loraine says,
‘The regular format helps people to recognise and become familiar with the group, which is very helpful for people with short-term memory loss.
‘The short bursts of varied activities mean it’s OK if one thing doesn’t suit somebody, as you quickly move on.’
People with dementia may experience difficulties in finding words, understanding others or recognising objects, which can discourage valuable social interaction.
Alison says,
‘Sonas provides a tool that can be used for anyone at any stage of dementia. Our community group is for people who are quite well living at home, usually with a carer.’
Regular format

Kristy Stott, Speech and Language Therapy Assistant, has led the sessions for over five years. Each lasts two hours, extended from the more usual 45-minute Sonas session to be worthwhile for everyone travelling specially.
Activities use music, inflatable balls, things to smell and touch, proverbs to complete – anything that stimulates senses and memories. The session runs along to a CD, with a regular voice and signature tune providing a familiar structure.
Kristy says this means she can focus on individual attendees.
‘I don’t have to worry about the format, I can make sure everybody is involved and not left out.’
Pauline Snowden’s husband had Alzheimer’s and used to attend, and after he died four years ago she was taken on by the trust as a volunteer to help with the group.
She says,
‘Ray loved it – he was a referee until the age of 72 and always active. They have a soft ball they play football with, chair exercises and of course they sing.’
Loraine says,
‘One lady with very advanced dementia struggled to engage with her surroundings. After attending, she began to join in with some of the exercises and singing. She would be animated and began to make friends.’
Sonas group in south Manchester

Joy and happiness

Helen, whose mother was a headteacher and had mixed dementia, says,
‘It gave me ideas to follow up with at home in terms of sensory games and resources to use.
‘I also realised that making eye contact with Mum before I spoke to her made a huge difference to her comprehension.’
Helen stayed during the sessions at first, but soon felt able to spend the time doing things herself and sharing with other carers.
‘It was two hours where I could come up for air.’
Annabel Green, an Assistant Psychologist, took part in the group for a month before beginning work to gauge its impact.
She says,
‘You can just see the joy and happiness that people get from it – the big smiles on their faces, very warm and welcoming environment, and great rapport between the people with dementia and with staff.
‘The first time I went it really surprised me. One person came in without looking at anybody, but by the end he was shaking my hand and smiling.’
More mindful

Loraine says,
‘Finding ways to promote communication is very beneficial for maintaining relationships between the person with dementia and their family, as well as for the person’s wellbeing.’
Of course this can become difficult as dementia progresses. Pauline says,
‘I’ve done it myself. I used to say things to Ray and he’d look at me. I’d raise my voice but he wasn’t deaf, he just couldn’t understand the question.’
Kristy says,
‘If you need advice you could be referred to a speech and language therapist, or speak to the local Alzheimer’s Society.
‘Everyone should be made to feel valued, and not feel they have to withdraw from activities. It means being more mindful, more patient.’


Parkinson’s Patients Groove to Music

Vol VII n.29

Music can have some powerful effects, and that’s certainly the case at Belmont Village Senior Living. During two Fridays every month, the residents of the senior living home, as well as outside community members, gather in a room for Carolyn Dobson’s class Dobson is a board certified music therapist who instructs music therapy classes for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Music can help slow down the progression of the disease, Dobson said. “In general, the elements of music travel in the brain differently than just verbal commands,” she said. “But when you pair things with rhythm, rhythm cues your motor cortex in your brain to fire more efficiently, so that your muscles fire more efficiently and appropriately, and it has the ability to bypass disease and injury.” Patricia Will, founder and CEO of Belmont Village, which opened last year in the Turtle Creek neighborhood, said the class has been successful. Residents often tell her they can feel a difference after participating in multiple sessions. During one recent class, Dobson played music over the loudspeaker or strummed her acoustic guitar. The music ranged from some Beatles tunes to American folk songs. The recorded music was 122 beats per minute, she said, and is only used for the exercises the participants do while sitting down. However, when they engage in standing exercises, Dobson switches to a slower beat by strumming her guitar, so the participants can better keep up. “The difference is when I’m playing my guitar, I can alter my rhythms to meet the needs of the client better,” she said. “Recorded music I do specifically so that people can go home and practice. You can’t have me everyday in your life, so you need a way to have carryover. So the more often you exercise to music to the same thing, the more your muscles remember it.” During the class, Dobson instructed the participants to tap their toes, move their arms, shake their maracas, and sing along with the music. Singing along can help with the participants’ breath support, which then can better help with their speech. Often times, people suffering from Parkinson’s disease have slurred and unclear speech. The participants in the class have experienced different stages of Parkinson’s disease. “My goal is to meet everyone’s needs,” she said. Paige Skinner is a special contributor to Preston Hollow People. This story appears in the June issue of Preston Hollow People, on stands now.

 Read more: Parkinson’s Patients Groove to Music | Preston Hollow People


La música puede para ayudar a personas con Alzheimer a recuperar recuerdos de experiencias positivas de su vida

Vol VII n.28

56 Congreso de la SEGG y 29 Congreso de la SCGG
Europa Press – jue, 22 may 2014

La música puede para ayudar a personas con Alzheimer a recuperar recuerdos de experiencias positivas de su vida, según ha asegurado la musicoterapéuta especializada en geriatría y demencias, Mónica de Castro, durante una ponencia realizada en el 56 Congreso de la Sociedad Española de Geriatría y Gerontología (SEGG) y el 20 Congreso de la Societat Catalana de Geriatría i Gerontología (SCGG). De hecho, un estudio realizado en 2009, mostró como en el córtex prefrontal medial de una persona sana existe un área que se activa cuando se escucha una música conocida, provocando recordar aspectos autobiográficos. Esta área es una de las que más tarde se deteriora en la enfermedad de Alzheimer.
“Podemos decir que la música tiene efectos sobre múltiples áreas del cerebro a nivel, tanto cortical como subcortical, y por lo tanto activa una red muy extensa que tiene una amplia cobertura de funciones. El ritmo influye sobre la regulación de la motricidad, la melodía tiene impacto sobre las emociones y la armonía está relacionada con aspectos cognitivos. Otros elementos como la intensidad, el tono, el tempo, la altura y el timbre se utilizan también para ayudar a regular estados de ánimo y aspectos fisiológicos”, ha comentado De Castro.
En este sentido, la experta ha señalado que la finalidad última de la musicoterapia es mejorar la calidad de vida de la persona y, especialmente, aquella que padece demencia porque es capaz de procesar la música después de haber perdido la capacidad de procesar el lenguaje.
Este hecho, prosigue, convierte a la música, en las fases más avanzadas, en una “importante” vía para la conexión con su propia identidad y la comunicación con su entorno más cercano, activando la memoria biográfica, las emociones asociadas y ofreciendo la posibilidad de compartir una experiencia propia con otro ser humano.
“Además, puede ser un estímulo que les proporciona confort y que puede mejorar su contribución a las actividades básicas como el aseo o la alimentación, añade la musicoterapéuta”, ha explicado la experta, para comentar que la música desvía el foco de atención de la persona de estímulos que no puede interpretar a un estímulo que tiene sentido, y por tanto tiene un efecto “calmante” ante estados de ansiedad en fases moderadas y avanzadas del proceso de demencia.
Asimismo, tal y como ha asegurado, en fases leves y moderadas puede contribuir a mantener las capacidades cognitivas y funcionales preservadas, retrasando el nivel de dependencia, y en fases más avanzadas puede ser una de las pocas vías de acceso a su propia identidad, una vía de comunicación con sus cuidadores, un estímulo que les proporciona confort y que puede mejorar su contribución a las actividades básicas como el aseo o la alimentación.
“Finalmente existe evidencia de que determinadas técnicas musicoterapéuticas pueden ayudar a reducir síntomas conductuales como la agresividad física y verbal o el deseo de deambular, contribuyendo a la mejora de la calidad de vida de la persona que padece la demencia y de sus cuidadores”, comenta De Castro.

Anatomy Of A Dance Hit: Why We Love To Boogie With Pharrell

Vol VII n.27


There’s no doubt Pharrell’s “Happy” is the biggest hit of the year so far. It spent 15 weeks at the top of the Billboard 100 and inspired hundreds of fan videos on YouTube. Just a few weeks ago, six Iranian teenagers got arrested for posting a video of themselves dancing to the catchy song. So what is it about “Happy” that triggers a nearly uncontrollable need to tap your foot, bob your head or move to the rhythm in some way? It may be more about what’s missing from the song than what’s there. Last month neuroscientists at Aarhus University in Denmarkpublished a study showing that danceable grooves have just the right amount of gaps or breaks in the beats. Your brain wants to fill in those gaps with body movement, says the study’s lead author, Maria Witek. “Gaps in the rhythmic structure, gaps in the sort of underlying beat of the music — that sort of provides us with an opportunity to physically inhabit those gaps and fill in those gaps with our own bodies,” she says. A few years ago, Witek set out to figure out which songs got people onto the dance floor. She created an online survey and gave people drum patterns to listen to. Some had really simple rhythms with regular beats. Others had extremely complex rhythms, with lots of gaps where you’d expect beats to be. Finally there were drumming patterns that fell in the middle of those two extremes. They have a regular, predictable beat, but also some pauses or gaps. Witek says that people all over the world agreed on which drum patterns made them most want to dance: “Not the ones that have very little complexity and not the ones that had very, very high complexity,” she says, “but the patterns that had a sort of a balance between predictability and complexity.” These rhythms offer enough regularity so that we can perceive the underlying beat, Witek and her team reported in the journal PLOS ONE. But they also need enough gaps or breaks to invite participants to synchronize to the music.So which popular songs on the radio today have this optimal amount of complexity? “I think the recent single by Pharrell, ‘Happy,’ is a very good example,” Witek says. The song is layered with predictable beats and complex, syncopated ones. The drums, the piano, the clapping and even Pharrell’s voice create inviting gaps, she says. But Pharrell isn’t the only one who knows about this trick. Classic dance tunes in disco, funk, hip-hop and rhythm and blues also hit this sweet spot of syncopation, Witek says. “Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder — those guys have a lot of tracks which seem to have this balance between predictability and complexity when it comes to the rhythmic structure,” she says. And don’t forget about Ray Charles. His 1950s hit “I’ve Got a Woman” made everybody want to hit the dance floor. But it’s not just a song’s syncopation that gets you to go from tapping your foot in your chair to standing up and full-out dancing. It’s also the song’s layers of rhythm, says neuroscientistDaniel Levitin at McGill University. “In ‘I’ve Got a Woman,’ the drums are keeping a very steady rhythm. The piano is syncopated and the vocals are exquisitely nuanced in time,” Levitin says. “It’s very difficult to sing along with him [Ray Charles] exactly the way he does it.” So we don’t sing with Charles. Instead we want to move with him. “The more rhythmically complex the music is … the easier it is to engage different body parts,” Levitin says, “because they can be synchronizing with different aspects of the music.” So you’re swinging your shoulders with the snare drums. You’re bobbing your head with the piano. “And you might be wiggling your hips in half-time or something like that,” he says. Before you know it, you’re up out of your chair and doing the twist.