Friday 7 April 2017, 11:44 | By Adam Hallows
In the News March 2017: Friends For Life
Following the launch of www.agileageing.org a brand new website where you will find the latest developments on the Silver Economy, our partner organisation the Agile Ageing Alliance (AAA), has published a visionary report on the future of Cognitive Homes in an ageing society (downloadable now for free). Next up AAA will be furthering its European agenda towards a Reference Framework for Age-friendly Housing at the European Commission in Brussels April 26th, to be followed by the Neighbourhoods of the Future 2017 launch: The Shape of Things to Come. Taking place on May 10/11 at NatWest HQ London, partners are the UK Government Cabinet Office; Departments of: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Health; Communities and Local Government; Science; Innovate UK. This is the opportunity to hear from leading experts; speak with influential thought leaders and decision makers; and network with peers. Have your say, register here.
Until then, take a look through our digest of the best stories we shared via CSL twitter this month.
You Do Something To Me
The growing body of research on the effect music has on the brain and our emotions, makes us confident we’ll see an increasing number of everyday applications helping those with life-limiting or long term conditions.
This month we saw another article on a project combining popular music and academia – this time from an app-based innovation using crowd-sourced data to better understand when we use music and for what, in an attempt to “fight opioid dependency with the natural high triggered by music”.
On the hope for his project, entrepreneur and former musician Marko Ahtisaari says; “In twenty years’ time, we will consider it absurd and primitive that we did not use music and sound as an essential part of our health regime, both for everyday wellness but also to compliment pharmaceutical treatment.”
This project reminded us of another article we shared last year about a collaboration between Reading University’s Brain Embodiment Laboratory and rapper Tinie Tempah – who agreeing on the power of music to affect people’s emotions, wanted to find a way to understand what really happens to our brains when we hear music.
They wanted to harness the emotional power of music for therapeutic uses; “to create a system which eventually will be able to help people with depression and different forms of emotional disorders associated with neurological disorders.”
We really do hope to see more practical applications that use the power of music to positively impact the lives of those with life-limiting conditions. It takes time however, as we can see with Virtual Reality which, beginning over 20 years ago, is only just emerging as a part of everyday life.
Educating The Young
One programme leading the way is ‘The Virtual Reality Program’ at the Children’s Heart Center, which “is going beyond gaming with three VR projects that are already improving patients’ education, health, and hospital experience and helping physicians treat cardiac patients more effectively”.
Through the use of VR headsets and handheld controllers, children at the centre can take a trip around the human body and see just what is happening to them and how their treatment will work. The benefit being, according to David M. Axelrod, MD, that; “Virtual reality eliminates a lot of that complexity by letting people go inside the heart and see what’s happening themselves — it’s worth way more than a thousand words.”
We can’t underrate the power of words to educate children about health conditions though, as we saw recently with Sesame Street’s introduction of their first character with autism.
As we found out in this recent article, “Julia, a little girl with bright orange hair, green eyes and a toy rabbit, will appear for the first time on the much-loved children’s TV show Sesame Street this month”. And according to Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of US Social Impact, they are; “modelling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share”.
We love seeing progressive approaches from institutions like Sesame Street as it proves that a small change in perspective can make a big change to someone’s life. A small change like getting a new best friend.
A Boy’s Best Friend
This story caught our attention as it showed that sometimes all we really want is someone who knows what we’re going through. After the loss of funding for local autism support groups, Adam’s parents had to look for alternative help. And when they saw an autism support dog on Crufts, they were inspired to contact the Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs which led to Grant joining the family.
Adam’s family say Grant has been a hugely positive addition to his life and the family’s, even allowing him to sleep on his own room and spend more time out and about. “Before Grant joined the family,” said mother Diane, “Adam’s anxiety made being in crowded places difficult.”
And according to his sister Beatrice, who notices how positively people react when Adam and Grant are out in public together. “I’ve never seen anyone who has called him weird,” she said. “As Lewis Caroll said: He’s not weird, his reality is just different to ours.”
Every time we see a small change making a big impact on someone’s life it gives us hope those changes will keep coming. And as they do, we’ll be sure to share them with you via the CSL twitter feed and the Agile Ageing Alliance LinkedIn group.
Until next month, stay creative!
Image used with permission: Copyright – Voyata