the power of music
I caught an item on BBC Breakfast this morning about a fantastic initiative to reconnect dementia sufferers with access to the music they once appreciated. An App now allows relatives to help family members tap into long-cherished songs from an extensive back-catalogue. This particularly highlighted the fact many of the subjects are British but also of international descent - first-generation Indian, Persian, Pakistani and a host of other countries - where having to learn English in the often distant past has hampered their ability to stay connected as their minds have faded in the present.
I’m thinking of my own father, Allen, who finally passed in 2014, aged 92, after a series of strokes in 2013. When he was recovering but gradually failing with symptoms of dementia, wheelchair-bound, partially-blind and struggling to work the TV remote, his love of music was always there. We'd ask him to name the PM (David Cameron at the time, which he sometimes remembered, sometimes not). Towards the end he could still recall the names of faces in an old school photo from the 1930s. But he also relished listening to Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on YouTube, along with some some of his less-likely tastes: he loved Jean-Jacques Burnel's 'Ozymandias'!
When I popped round to visit, I’d often find him playing his moothie or electronic keyboard while the girls from his care team sang along.
Leo Tolstoy: “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Jack Kerouac: “The only truth is music.”
the power of football and community
June 2009 saw the launch of the Scottish Football Reminiscence Project, an initial yearlong project, aimed to provide reminiscence therapy (through old match programmes, and images of famous players, team line-ups and actions shots) to give inspiration to people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
“Studies into the effectiveness of the initial work, funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and in collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland, Culture & Sport Glasgow, the Scottish Library & Information Council and Glasgow Caledonian University, suggested the project produced beneficial results and consequently the materials continue to be made available to interested parties.
That particular instance was centred on fans of the Easter Road club, but since one-in-three will be affected it goes without saying that this awful degenerative disease transcends football loyalties.