As the Director and Founder of Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio Station I have found that a one to one approach when working with people best accommodates the needs of each individual, which vary greatly depending on the type and stages of dementia that each person experiences.
At Sound Memories Radio, our Life Story Channel was born from my MA assignment, working with Louie, a 92 year old woman living in a dementia friendly care home in Carmarthenshire.
The Life story Channel is aimed at people with early stage dementia, helping with memory loss and providing peer stories for reminiscence.
Then we have our Environmental Sound Map which was an idea born from my work with Mary, who had end stage dementia and longed for the sounds of the farm. Her emotional response to the local sound map I created for her, led to a more extensive piece of work capturing sound maps for other older people.
But research now shows that people who are living with end stage dementia or semantic dementia are more likely to feel discomfort with sound such as music, speech and background noise, as these are complex acoustic signals that rely on the cognitive processes which are effected by dementia. In fact, a high percentage of people with end stage or semantic dementia are known to experience tinnitus and hyperacusis. I know first hand how debilitating these conditions can be.
This is an interesting article about it HERE from the US National Institute of Health.
We also know that for people with end stage dementia, their lives can become very small and based indoors, so they can no longer visit the places that used to give them joy.
Taking all of these facts into consideration, and also knowing the noisy environments that hospitals and homes can be, I am currently collating a sound free, nature video library. The intention is that the older person with sound intolerance can wear sound excluding headphones and watch the slowly moving films of their local areas such as parks, museum grounds etc. This way, they can stay connected to outdoors.
You can see one of the films as an example HERE.
I am currently looking for a Research Partner to provide funding so that I can take the work into Care Homes. I would like to trial the films with 3 older people who are living dementia and sound distortion to measure the benefits.
If you feel that you or your organisation would like to fund this work with me, please feel free to get in touch to talk it through.
Alternatively, if you would like to make a donation towards the work, here is a link to our GOFUNDME page. Thank you.