Sunday, September 6, 2015

Something magical going on . . .

I can hardly wait to share this unexpected treat!
A good friend of mine in Ohio sent me a report from her local news-station.  The theme is dementia and, believe it or not, it's positively uplifting.

The fear of dementia would seem to haunt the future like a spectre.  We cannot avoid old age, but what does it hold in store?
According to recent records, the life-span of those living in the western world has increased by a decade over the past century.
But what does this extended life-span have to offer?
Without our memories  . . . without our dreams . . . who are we . . . ?

According to this report, which includes a moving video, if we're to be successful in combating dementia one of the answers lies with sound.  It's sound, not words, that's all-powerful.

This resonates with my own experience.  Each week I take my cat, Chloe, to visit patients at our local nursing home, one of whom suffers from severe dementia.

Chloe, who always rises to the occasion, greets each patient with a polite, "Miaow!".  It's deeply touching for me, and any staff on duty, to witness the dementia sufferer's reaction to this greeting.
Her eyes open and focus, a smile of pure delight spreads over her face, and a frail hand is lifted up in an effort to touch Chloe's fur.

It's the sound of the "Miaow!" that works the magic, not any words of mine.

You may well be more knowledgeable than me.  You may already know of the extraordinary power that sound, specifically music, holds in firing parts of the brain undamaged by dementia.
Whether or not you're familiar with the science, you cannot fail to be moved by the video in this report.

I would love to think that it will be circulated widely in care homes and nursing homes.  I would love to believe that, in consequence, musical instruments will be made available to those who, at the moment, do little more than spend their days gazing unseeingly at the unceasing flow of images on their television screens.

I would also like to hope that it might be shown in schools and colleges.  Nothing could demonstrate more powerfully the need for music in childhood . . . the need for children to experience the joy of making music for themselves.   Whilst schools urge their students to write, calculate and debate, the demands of an over-crowded time-table sometimes means that music is pushed to the side-lines.

Words can illustrate our individuality and ability, but they can also bring discord and division.
It's music that brings us together . . . and it's the music of our youth that stays with us throughout our lives.

Let me end by quoting the words of a participant in this video,  "I think," she says, "we've got something rather magical going on . . . "
It is magic . . . deeply moving magic.
Click here to experience the magic for yourself: