Inspired by our recent Alzheimer’s Weeks, our latest article explores the power of adopting a more holistic approach towards Alzheimer’s and dementia, and draws on the experience of a Revitalise guest who enjoyed a break with our charity during one such week.
In recent years the adoption of holistic approaches to the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia has become increasingly prevalent and one such approach has been the introduction of music therapy. Scientifically music stimulates activity of the amygdala – the part of our brain that is responsible for regulating emotion – so it is completely understandable that for many of us, the music we like has the power to lift our moods and even transport us back to a certain time or place in our lives.
While researching into the way that music affects our brains, there was a particularly fascinating point made that really made me reconsider our connection to music as human beings. Think about this: take a moment to stop what you are doing and focus on your heartbeat, really pay attention to its steady rhythm as you breathe. Now like me you may not have considered this before, but it seems that the key to our love of music goes far deeper than just its feel-good factor. Our heartbeat continuously creates rhythm in our lives and some researchers believe that it is our exposure to the heartbeat, even before birth, which means that musical ability is a natural function of a human being. Amazing, huh?
When you consider the power of music from this perspective, it’s clear why holistic therapies such as music therapy can have such a profound impact on people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia and why there is a clear case for greater investment in such therapies.
It was with great interest that I recently read a piece published in The Guardian, which referenced research carried out by a commission set up by the International Longevity centre thinktank and the Utley Foundation. The study built a case for greater investment in music therapy, as it found that music can help people with dementia recall information and help to reduce symptoms associated with the condition including anxiety or aggression.
And, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and numbers are expected to rise to over one million by 2025.
As an organisation we understand the importance of being on hand to support people affected by a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia and their loved ones.
But to really bring to light what the opportunity of a break can mean for our guests we had a chat with guest Alison who recently enjoyed a holiday with us during one of our specialist Alzheimer’s Weeks, sharing what it meant to be able to take a break for both herself and her husband. Alison shared:
“Being with others on the same emotional and physical journey that we are on. Making new friends: learning from them: realising that I am not on my own and renewing friendships with staff and guests. There are so many hugs the first day and even more on the last day – magic.
When asked what Alison enjoyed most about a Revitalise holiday, she added: “Being spoilt by being treated to a meal out with no worries or organisation and not having to keep an eye on how Nigel is eating; by having a hand or neck/shoulder massage or using the hair dresser, on site. Not having to cook or wash up. Having volunteers around who ask ME if I would like a cup of tea or coffee instead of always doing it myself.”
Our respite holidays provide support to guests like Alison and Nigel all year round. If you would like to give a gift in support of our work please do so below. Thank you.