Over a dozen years of work in a long term care facility with people with brain confusion of various descriptions, backed by an equal number of years researching academic papers and articles, conference attendance in multiple and interdisciplinary subjects: medicine, psychology, environmental impact on brain confusion, neurobiology, music therapy and dementia; plus courses in Arts and Medicine (University of Capetown SA), photography and sound design (Emory University) has gone into the production of these videos.
The work of three key writers and thinkers, Thomas Kitwood, Dementia Reconsidered, Atal Gawande, Being Mortal, and Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary, as well as input and support from music therapists, nurses, spouses, sons and daughters, personal support workers and, most importantly, input from people with brain confusion, has all been layered into the production.
Visual considerations: Visual data is the first and most important sensory input for the human brain. It determines all other sensory reactions and responses. The photographs and videos used are of natural organic material (flowers, plants, leaves, water), everyday household items – the most easily recognized visual stimuli of common life. They have been grouped into predominant colour groups.
Music and sound considerations: New music is used in each of the Back in 5 videos. Therefore this music provides the possibility to create a new memory associated with the pictures. Music therapists have found that, with repetition, new memories can still be created. These videos encourage the use of these new memories as a way of music cueing for various tasks. Music is the last memory to go and hearing is the last sense to go from the human brain. So older music is employed in Reflections in Time. Nothing changes mood in the human being faster than music does. So in times of stress and anxiety for both those with brain confusion and their caregivers, these little videos can provide relief. Natural sounds of well known birds, dogs barking, thunder rolling provide the background to the videos. Again these common sounds enhance the ‘environmental’ experience of viewing. Helping to take the viewer right in to nature. Communication considerations: Affirmation and reminiscence are two of the key methods of establishing communication with people with dementia. The visual nature of the little movies opens doors to engaging in this kind of conversation.
Those who are in the post-verbal stage of dementia also respond very positively to these videos. Facial expressions of smiling, nodding and finger-tapping to the music are conveying feelings of relaxation and ease. It is also possible to augment the experience by giving the person a musical instrument like a maraca or a couple of spoons to allow them to participate in the experience by making music of their own.