Monday, 8 June 2015

Take Note: Working with the Older Voice & People with dementia

On Monday 25th May, a one-day training workshop - "Take Note: Working with the Older Voice & People with dementia" took place at Dun Laoghaire LexIcon Library 

This event was organised and is proudly supported by the partners involved in the Musical Memories choirs: Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Arts & Health Promotion, Health Service Executive, Living Well with Dementia Stillorgan-Blackrock Project and Music Matters

The training event was faciliated  by Gráinne O'Grady, Musical Director of Music Matters, Musical Memories Choirs in Deansgrange & Stillorgan, and Crumlin/ Dublin 12 Choir for Older People & those with dementia. She also co-founded and directed the Forget Me Nots choir in Baldoyle and trained with the world-renowned Unforgettables Chorus in New York. 


Other facilitators were: 

Éilis Hession, Manager of Services for older people and is the lead for one of Genio's dementia demonstration sites with the project "Living Well with Dementia" in Stillorgan/ Blackrock, HSE Dublin South. Éilis has 38 years of experience working in healthcare and she is a member of the National Dementia Strategy. 

Catherine Daly, Occupational Therapist who specialises in the area of older persons, with mental health difficulties and dementia. Catherine has worked across a variety of settings including acute, community and residential care. She also held a national Care Practice role promoting best practice in dementia care. She now freelances and is working with the Living Well with Dementia project. 


Nine musicians and choral directors attended this event - all were very interested in leading choirs for older people and those with dementia. There is an increasing demand for these type of choirs all over Ireland 


Image Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYUARDc1wDA

47,744 people are currently living with various types of dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) in Ireland 

As the population is ageing, this is expected to increase to 104,000 by 2036 

For every person diagnosed with dementia, three other close family members are directly affected 


Image Credit: http://wicklowdementiasupport.org/wds-news/
The Dun Laoghaire Rathdown administrative area (in south-east Dublin) has the highest rates of dementia in Ireland 

Living Well with Dementia Stillorgan-Blackrock was established in 2012 

It was one of four pilot projects around Ireland to be awarded funding through Genio, for innovative ways of enabling people with dementia to live in their community and maintain their independence 



Singing in a choir and having access to musical performances is beneficial for those with dementia, their families, friends and carers 

Although dementia can cause difficulties with short-term memory, communication and activities of daily living - People with dementia do retain their procedural memory for a long time 

This may mean that a person remembers all the words of a song they learned as a child, even if their speech is impaired 

People with dementia retain their emotional memory forever - they will be able to connect with a song, and the emotions and tone of voice used by the original singer etc 



Maya Angelou quote: I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

The main purpose of the training workshop was to increase the awareness and understanding of dementia, amongst choral directors and musicians, who may be interested in setting up a choir for older people and those with dementia or to encourage these groups of people to join more "mainstream" choirs or choral societies 

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The choir means a LOT to those involved with Musical Memories - here's what they had to say! 


Choir Member 1: The choir has given me hope again - I have met others in the same situation as me (caring for a loved one with dementia); I don't feel scared or lonely/ isolated anymore 

Choir member 2: The choir has had a really positive impact on our relationship - we have been singing, laughing, having fun together again. Loving the music & loving each other 



I no longer feel 'elderly' or like a useless old person, fit only for the scrap heap! This choir has given me a new sense of purpose again, a new lease of life. I am valuable. I'm wanted there. I'm missed & enquired after if I can't make a rehearsal. I'm not let off the hook or pitied for being old! 



He can be difficult to motivate, especially the last few years. Not wanting to go out or mix socially. Not even wanting to get out of bed. But, once a week, at that choir rehearsal, he has a wide smile, a glint in his eye. He's singing. Dancing. Chatting. I see again that young, charming man I fell in love with 60 years ago. 

 There will soon be over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK; fewer than half actually have a diagnosis. In Ireland, it's 42,000 - 50,000 now; by 2036 this is expected to rise to 104,000. It's relevant to all of us

Our Choir? It's Priceless! 

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The day ended with some singing and all participants got a certificate at the end. 

We would like to thank all that attended and hope we have answered your questions about including older people and those with dementia, within your choirs and musical groups 

This is a rapidly growing area, and there are many choral directors and musicians interested in setting up their own choirs - We hope to another training event in the near future 

Watch this space!   

Original Content: Take Note: Working with the Older Voice & People with dementia

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