Retired GP Margaret Garner, leads the musical version of Empowered Conversations. She was inspired to get involved with the training as she has always been interested in the amateur music scene. This combined with her professional capabilities, saw Margaret get involved in music therapy and from that Empowered Conversations – The Sequel was born.
To mark World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21) which is in World Alzheimer’s Month, Margaret talks to us about her belief in using music to communicate and maintain relationships with people when words can be difficult or are no longer available.
“Music shares many properties with language and we can use aspects of music to explore the way we communicate; what can go wrong and how we can adapt and find ways of addressing problems. Some of these aspects are: silence, rhythm, tempo, tone, dynamics, melody and harmony – which can reflect our everyday conversations.
“I expect many people will have seen some very impressive videos of older people with dementia who appear to ’wake up’ and become much more responsive when they are played recorded music known to be of significance to them.
“This can indeed happen but music can be used in a number of ways, perhaps less immediately obvious but nonetheless equally rewarding.
“Music is incorporated into the Empowered Conversations course to explore barriers to communication- when language is too complex or too fast it can be a barrier- we use music exercises as a metaphor to explore this. Professional or family carers can then reflect on how this may relate to a verbal conversation and how they can be more aware of these barriers.