Where Memories Go

Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 15th of September 2015.


Alice reading where memories go

I have just come back from holiday, and spent many wonderful hours getting lost in Sally Magnusson’s Book ‘Where Memories Go’. It’s a really powerful book written from her own perspective as a family/carers view. The author, is the daughter of the Magnus Magnusson who you’ll remember as the questioner on Mastermind, and her mum, a journalist – and she writes, honestly/brutally/educatedly about her experience of caring for her mum alongside her siblings until she dies at home. I was impressed by the books emotional narrative of her story, next to the evidence and knowledge of dementia.

“If I am to understand what had begun happening to you the summer we went to mull I really must get to grips with these neurons. Because here, right here where these golden shaped are on the point of talking to one another, is where memory resides. In a living brain each of these neurons would be carrying an electronic signal to the other neurons, and on these signal depend all our memories, thoughts and feelings. The point where the signal make contact is known as the ‘synapse’, from the greek sunapsis, a joining together. When a charge reaches a synapse, it triggers the release of tiny bursts of chemicals called neurotransmitters, which travel across the synapse carrying the signal to the other cells. It is these synapses that are affected in Alzheimer’s.”

After discovering the research behind music and memory and dementia, she tried it out with her mum, and was incredibly impressed with her response to music personal to her. So much so – she developed a charity called Playlist for Life. It was a really inspiring book and I’d recommend it to anyone connected to the dementia world, whether policy maker, family member, researcher, designer or carer.

“…music is the ultimate in person-centred care. A treatment that doesn’t even feel like one, it affects how people are able to think, feel and act at every stage of the process. The past embedded in Amber. Music, the one thing dementia cannot destroy.”

If you are an activities co-ordinator/family member looking after a loved one, I’d be keen to hear from you how you have used music/sounds to engage someone with dementia.

What do you find works really well?