Do you worry about getting dementia? I do.
It is one of the reasons I am so interested in getting and keeping my brain as healthy as possible. Not only is it a horrible disease, but after years of research, very little has been found to mitigate its deeply unpleasant effects.
Now there is something you can do for yourself and any relative or friend who is facing dementia, or other diseases which affect the brain.
Prepare a playlist of your life. Start collecting, on an easy-to-use recording device like an iPod, your favourite music: any songs, symphonies, TV or film themes, or any other pieces which give you joy and remind you of the various stages of your life.
The idea comes from Sally Magnusson, who cared for her mother Mamie through many years of dementia. Sally wrote about her experiences in Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything.
As a result of everything she learned while caring for her mother, Sally founded Playlist for Life.
In researching her book, Sally discovered that work was being done with personalized music on iPods in some American nursing homes. Where patients were able to listen to their personal favourite songs, the prescription of antipsychotic drugs plummeted by up to 50%.
And she has witnessed the benefits: “I have seen it myself, have watched open-mouthed (and usually in tears) as people in the most advanced stages of dementia have returned to a sense of themselves with finger-waving, foot-tapping, eye-flashing joy.”
What Sally saw persuaded her to become an advocate for change: “We prompt residential homes to incorporate individual playlists into care packages rather than always reaching for the easy pill.”
She believes that giving people access to music that means something to them – rather than the impersonal sound of a radio or TV in a corner of a room – is truly therapeutic. “Give people regular access to the uniquely meaningful music that has provided the soundtrack of their lives and there is every chance that the music will cheer them up, calm them down, transport them to somewhere familiar, and keep them connected to a self they recognize and to the people they love.”
You will see a couple of lovely videos on playlistforlife.org.uk which explains why this idea works so well.
The playlist for life is a great way of tapping into the power of the brain. And there’s so much more we can do. I love to teach and coach people on how to enhance their magnificent minds, both at work and at home. You will be surprised at how much I can help you.
If you are looking for other ways to nurture and stimulate your brain, check out my book: Get More Power From Your Brain.