In 2012, Tryn Rose Seley published a beautiful book titled “15 Minutes of Fame.” This little gem takes a look at personalizing dementia care and improving life’s experience for those who have trouble remembering. Creating moments of joy each day should be the focus of Alzheimer’s care, Seley says, and her book introduces readers to practical ideas for doing this.
Seley’s philosophy is designed for those who need help each day getting back in touch with people and places in their lives. Her idea of “bringing people back to ground,” or centering them with a touch, a song, a favorite photo, or a familiar story is comforting. For Seley, it doesn’t matter whether these songs or stories will be remembered; it’s all about feelings or memories in the moment. Music is an important part of awakening memories and reminding those with memory loss of familiar things and places.
Early in her career, Seley used music to open doors of communication while teaching preschool-age and children with special needs. Later, as a professional caregiver, she discovered that music and art could spark memories for older people unable to communicate. Seley’s work with the Alzheimer’s Association program, “Memories in the Making,” enriched her experience with stimulating long-forgotten memories. “We can raise energy with music and storytelling,” Seley says. “People (with memory loss) go back to one or two things that have meaning for them. We aren’t teaching art, but drawing it out of them.” Her tools of trade are her voice, a guitar, and a mountain dulcimer.
Seley’s “15 Minutes of Fame” weaves together memorable quotes, photos, and an inspirational message to those who may be frustrated or having difficulty caring for someone with memory loss. “Returning to solid ground,” the underlying theme of Seley’s writing, explores the idea of using these resources to familiarize caregivers with their charges and provide them with tools for defusing difficult moments. Reintroducing the familiar evokes thoughts and memories of things that are comfortable—a personal approach that builds an atmosphere of mutual trust and positive interaction. This approach lightens moments for weary caregivers too, and reminds them of the importance of tending to emotional needs.
Seley suggests setting aside 15 minutes a day to learn something about someone or to talk with him or her about things that have special meaning. Sharing one photo, one song, or one story about a person’s life every day is the backbone of her philosophy for nurturing the spirit. Seley acknowledges that setting aside 15 minutes may seem difficult first, but she encourages people to start small and build up.
It seems that care facilities would benefit from integrating Seley’s approach into their daily routines. When prospective residents move to care communities, for example, staff usually requests written information about their personal preferences, hobbies, and talents. Why not ask families for favorite photos, songs, and descriptions of memorable events as well? This information could be assembled into notebooks, placed in residents’ private living spaces, and used as conversation starters for caregivers and visitors. Care communities could also divide responsibility among caregivers for learning about more about residents and sharing this information with staff and families.
This beautifully written book is recommended for any caregiver or family of someone with memory loss. “15 Minutes of Fame” is available on Seley’s website at www.caregiverheart.com as a digital download, as a Nook copy at barnesandnoble.com, or as a Kindle download on amazon.com. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for a hardcopy version of the book.
AUTHOR TRYN ROSE SELEY is a professional caregiver, musician, and photographer. She grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, and lived in Pennsylvania and Colorado before moving to her current home in Scottsdale, AZ. Seley has a degree in elementary education and has studied music, which she has woven into her personal and professional life.
Written By: Patricia Woodell
November 1, 2014
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