Authentic Musings on Dementia: Motorcycle Grandma February 21, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Karen Love
Conducting research into the science of dementia engagement has been a heartwarming and interesting journey. Research shows that when an individual living with dementia is comfortable and doing something of interest to them, the brain releases ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters. These natural brain chemicals can temporarily spark new neuronal brain connections resulting in the individual’s ability to say or do something they otherwise would not have the ability any longer to do. During testing for the fidelity of dementia engagement products over many years with people living with dementia and their family members and others, we’ve been privileged to witness many special moments.
One special moment occurred during a session we were filming of the engagement between Belva, a 91 year old woman living with dementia, and her granddaughter, Sandy. Sandy was committed to staying close and connected to Belva and understood that she would have to be creative as dementia impacted her grandmother’s abilities and cognitive function. Sandy knew her grandmother loved sports, so they were enjoying time together looking at a book about different sports. Watch this short video clip to see what surprising news Sandy learned about Belva that day!
You do not personally have to know Belva to see the joy radiating from her smiles. What isn’t visible are the neurotransmitters being released in Belva’s brain as a result of her joyful feelings. The neurotransmitters spark her memory resulting in her unexpected, playful comment, “Listen, there isn’t anything I haven’t done.”
These types of moments of fun and interaction together are not only endearing but are essential to maintain emotional connections. If people don’t find ways to stay emotionally connected, the connections wane over time regardless of how many years a relationship existed. While it takes a little investment of time and thinking creatively, the rewards are immeasurable.