As part of her guest editorship of Today, Carey Mulligan explores the stigma associated with dementia and asks if more can be done to widen understanding of the disease. She is joined by Michael Parkinson, whose mother suffered from dementia, and Michael Palin, whose good friend and comedian-in-arms Terry Jones has frontotemporal dementia. They all say music is something their loved ones still react to.
A £2.7 million project aimed at transforming life for people living alone with dementia, is to be trialled in Cambridgeshire by Anglia Ruskin University music therapists. They will use artificial intelligence to adapt and personalise live radio to try and address the key causes of hospital admission for those suffering from dementia. Radio Me will tackle issues such as agitation and failing to take medication correctly and as a result, it is hoped quality of life will improve with people able to remain living independently at home for longer. Jörg Fachner, professor of music, Health and the brain at ARU, said: "Our role is to investigate precisely how people with dementia can benefit from this interactive radio experience. "Music therapists at ARU and partner organisations will use biomarker responses to fine-tune playlists in order to deliver emotional and cognitive stimulation, and evaluate exactly how interactive music interventions, using AI, can benefit people with dementia in their own homes and in assisted living environments." Professor Eduardo Miranda, from the University of Plymouth, added: "Radio Me builds on research carried out as part of our previous EPSRC-funded project into a brain computer music interface, as well as our work on artificial intelligence, music influencing emotion, and the University's long-running involvement in shaping national policy on dementia.
At first glance, Muru Music Health comes across as another digital music streaming platform. But according to founder Nicc Johnson, the digital platform has been designed specifically to tailor the listening experience to a person's music tastes. "What streaming services today do really well is they look at the aggregate of user data -- of millions of users -- and they find patterns to be able to recommend music to you. Collaborative filtering in a nutshell," he said. "The difference here is we are looking at the individual, and we're looking specifically for music to help them relax, exercise, or trigger positive memories. That means we can't really rely on music listening of another user because it doesn't have the same affects."
Elvis is still the King. The Australia man lives with dementia and has been staying at Blacktown Hospital in New South Wales. The condition makes him "distressed, angry, and agitated," according to Western Sydney Health. But crank on a bit of "Heartbreak Hotel" and his mood changes, just like that. "His whole behaviour has changed, so for us at home, we haven't been so worried about how he's going here at hospital," O'Malley's daughter, Trish Scerri said in the video, released by the health service.