Alzheimers & Dementia, Care Homes, Motivational Music, Ruth Singing

Keep Singing

As Covid-19 began to take its’ hold, and we in the UK faced lockdown, a good friend of mine said “when you feel a bit down – sing.”

And this is just what I have done! Whenever life has seemed uncertain and I have felt alone, I’ve sung. Now I can reliably confirm that singing has lifted my spirits and in turn has helped me to connect with others around the world in exactly the same position as myself.

At home, my study has turned into a recording studio and I’ve had a wonderful time singing lots of songs that I haven’t sung for ages and then learning to turn them into videos.

You can listen to some of my creations by watching them on my You Tube channel  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVmkpF0EiKcfDhflPj4wA_A

I hope you enjoy them.

 

Alzheimers & Dementia, Care Homes, Motivational Music

Raising The Roof At Loran House, Hull

I was thrilled to witness residents and staff of Loran House, Hull* raise the roof last Thursday during my latest Motivational Music session there. As one staff member commented afterwards “You really got them going Ruth.” Some residents got up and danced; others moved, sang and made music in their armchairs. The whole room was filled with music, fun and lots of laughter. What a wonderful afternoon we all had.

There are so many physical, emotional and social benefits to be gained from singing and it is my joy and privilege to be able to assist in bringing a room to life during a motivational music session. This is particularly obvious when I work in a care home, where after lunch many residents can be found dozing in their armchairs as I arrive.

Singing is an ageless enjoyment and it is well known that the endorphins it releases reduce pain and improve mood. Singing is particularly beneficial for elderly people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. I have witnessed firsthand how my regular singing sessions contribute to bringing the following benefits amongst elderly care home residents:-

  • Increased energy
  • Animated mind, body and spirit
  • Reduced anger, depression and anxiety
  • Increased self esteem and confidence
  • Enhanced mood
  • Improved mental alertness which in turn contributes to reducing the number of falls
  • Increased lung capacity
  • Increased sense of community
  • Creating a forum for fun & laughter

*Loran House residential care centre, offers care for clients whose needs are associated with the ageing process and dementia.

Alzheimers & Dementia, Motivational Music

Well Done Dementia Choir

I was enthralled to watch Vicky McClure’s “Dementia Choir” recently on BBC 1 which served to reinforce the benefits I am seeing on a regular basis during my Motivational Music sessions across many Yorkshire care homes. People living with dementia will often feel agitated and restless, but singing helps them feel calmer and more animated. By the end of a session their mood has lifted and often they will engage in some form of interaction and communication with others in their group. It is wonderful to see how the whole energy of the room has lifted.

The right song can instantly transport someone back in time and elicit strong emotions even if they haven’t heard it for years. It is such a privilege to witness a person who cannot speak singing along to a song which has been tucked away deep inside their brain.

I’m also delighted to learn that a national campaign called Music for Dementia 2020 hopes to make some form of music available for everyone with dementia by the year 2020.

Alzheimers & Dementia

Somebody I Used To Know – A Great Read

This book is a definite must for all those caring for someone living with dementia. It is available from many publishers including Bloomsbury

Wendy Mitchell’s ground breaking book documents her personal experience of living with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Diagnosed at 58 with its’ early onset, Wendy’s honest account and her many radio and TV appearances are helping to build a better understanding of the illness.

Wendy says in her article “My Opinion On The Social Care Chaos” which appears on her personal blog Which Me Am I Today:-

“For so long, in this country, we havn’t talked about the complexity of the individual living with dementia. The ‘need’ for support and services has been ignored and thought of as the realm of charities and this is one of the main reasons for the chaotic state of social care at present.

For so long people with dementia have been shoe horned into the general services which others believe is our need instead of individually assessing need. Now we’re beginning to rise in numbers and TALK in public, there’s a realisation of the individuality of ‘need’ – we don’t all ‘fit’ into current services provided.

It’s almost as if it’s too late for all those of us currently living with dementia, both in the early mid and late stages and all stages in between. It feels like we’re the guinea pigs being used to try to sort out this mess so future generations can benefit.

If everyone currently living with dementia, in whatever stage, has to be guinea pigs for change to happen, then so be it, but change there has to be. No more silence, no more voices of the few, no more talk and good intentions – there has to be actions.

In the next 5 years huge social care change must take place so that in 10 years time, we’re proud of what the country has in place. People living with cancer aren’t shoe horned into inappropriate treatment, those recovering from a stroke aren’t shoe horned into inappropriate treatment….so why are people with dementia? Dementia lags behind in medical innovation so the need for social transformation is greater.

We don’t have innovative medical procedures to follow or a plethora of choice on medication because research has been sadly underfunded so the need for social transformation is greater. In my mind this should naturally lead clinicians to use social prescribing instead of automatically looking at the medical model and then discharging us.

No more silence and ‘making do’. We need to be realistic though and also examine various ways to fund this enormous need – what should and shouldn’t be funded – as we all know there is no infinite money in the pot.

Yes it is a daunting job to transform social care, but then surely it was a daunting job to create the NHS in the first place, but it happened.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if social care was a job of choice, with recognition, status, and a value placed on the skills of the staff?
Wouldn’t it be nice if individuals were treated as simply that, individuals with individual needs?
Wouldn’t it be nice if policy makers actually listened to the people that mattered and had most knowledge?

Which beggars the question, ‘Who is responsible and who should be involved in this massive transformation’? Well, only people who truly understand the problem and a large proportion of whatever group is set up should be made up of people with dementia, supporters, experts from the likes of Innovations in Dementia, TIDE, who are not afraid to stand up to policy makers – non negotiable and paid appropriately. Real people with real knowledge, real experience, along with the few policy makers who can make it happen but who LISTEN, MAKE NOTES, and put into ACTION.”

Well said Wendy. Come on you policy makers, it’s time to start catching up quick.

Alzheimers & Dementia, Care Homes, Motivational Music

I’ve Got A Brand New Combine Harvester

“Ooh aah ooh aah” is the favourite expressions of one of the lovely gentleman in our group.

This week, his catchphrase prompted me to dig out some cowboy hats and blonde pig tail wigs from my dressing up box and get us all singing along to “I’ve Got A Brand New Combine Harvester” at our Music for the Mind” session. Well done everyone and thank you all for joining in the fun and getting dressed up. Our fortnightly sessions are all about expressing ourselves and creating some new memories in a fun, positive, caring and supportive environment.