Monday, August 2

"Memory Lane TV" Soothes Anxiety & Agitation in Dementia


Calming anxiety dramatically improves dementia care. See Memory Lane TV alleviate sundowning, smooth transitioning between activities, and soothe triggers of agitation.

At "The Cedars", in the morning, before lunch and late in the afternoon, Alzheimer’s patients are shown a series of carefully crafted mini-movies. Their creator is celebrated documentary film maker Alban Maino.

Maino combines beautiful, cinematographic images with music of the era, then uses familiar, aromatic fragrances through a device similar to a “Scentsy.” The result is a three-pronged sensory experience that Alban claims brings recognition and a sense of calm to Alzheimer’s patients, who often combat agitation and confusion throughout their day.

In one video, a clip from the movie “Singing in the Rain” plays, along with its signature theme song, while the scent of popcorn permeates the room. Alban Maino has designed each clip with expert precision. "We are using all sorts of video, soundscape, music, archival footage, and even senses, such as the olfactory stimulation. We're able to awaken people from the sense of smell."

In another video, one that runs during the morning sessions, Maino uses sunrises, light orchestral music and the aroma of baking bread. Nick Viti says it works particularly well and is evocative with his patients. “It’s a sort of natural cue of morning time because that’s been a part of many people’s morning routines for decades, before they came to us here at The Cedars.”

The key to the videos, Maino says, is beautiful shots that are held for much longer than traditional television. He describes these moments as dream scenes. “And a dream scene to me is a 3- to 5-minute scene that takes you and transports you through guided imagery and sort of passive meditation."

That calm comes in handy during the more anxiety-ridden times at The Cedars, during transitions from one activity to another and particularly for patients suffering from Sundowner's Syndrome, or late-day confusion.

Maino points out one patient, a woman who has to wear headphones with music to stay calm. Through the use of customized music and through specific films at the end of the day, those panic attacks can be managed well which, in the end, improves her quality of life.

The program follows the natural progression of each day — three, 24-minute long videos mirror the circadian rhythm. “In the morning, we're going to use sunrises and sounds of birds and in the evening it will be sunsets over the beautiful ocean in Maine."

And while I visited, one group was watching a Cedars' favorite right before lunch: scenes from the vibrant and familiar Fryeburg Fair. The scenery is designed to remind them or take them away and helps to keep them alert so they will eat their important, nutrition rich lunch. And the combination of beautiful fall colors, familiar farm animals and an upbeat parade has them all looking at the screen and one or two tapping their toes.

I ask one patient how the video, music and aromas make her feel. She turns to me and says, a smile across her face, “wonderful."

So the big question: does it work? Some of the feedback so far is that, yes, caretakers are noticing after using the Memory-Lane.TV system for a couple of weeks, Alzheimer’s patients sleep better. And the added positive feedback is they are less agitated and easier to take care of.

Full article at: WCSH6 - Alzheimer's: Breaking through to memory (Ed. note: The Cedars senior community and memory center in Maine has since continued to use Maino's multi-sensory approach, and has added a program called "Opening Minds Through Art" as well.)


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  1. Is this something that is available for purchase?


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