Seattle Harpist Adds Patient Therapy to her Repertoire

October 28th, 2015

monica-headshot“My work as a therapeutic harpist is a service and not a performance. I don’t expect any kind of recognition,” multi-talented Seattle musician Monica Schley explained when she sat down to discuss her experience as a Certified Clinical Musician. Most of Schley’s musical roles, such as her chamber-pop band, The Daphnes, or role in the experimental pop opera, “Now I’m Fine,” involve performance and entertainment but through her service as a therapeutic musician, she says, she’s found “soul purpose” and improved aspects of her musicianship.

Schley began her journey with the harp at the age of 14. Since then she’s gained mastery of her instrument and acquired a wide repertoire of music which will  soon debut on her first full length album “Keep the Night Dark.” Her experience spans classical, chamber, rock, jazz, improvisation and avant garde. She teaches, composes, and has collaborated with dozens of musicians. Three years ago she did something different. She enrolled in a course in clinical musicianship accredited by the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians. In addition to the coursework she served an intensive internship playing roughly 40 hours in hospitals and kidney dialysis centers and 20 hours in hospice. This is the first year she’s been practicing with full certification. As a therapeutic harpist, Schley says, her ability to memorize music has improved and “It really opened up my ears to how I connect music and sound.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hoarding In Seattle: A Hidden Mental Health Concern

October 22nd, 2015

345,000 people in Washington struggle with hoarding disorder according to Governor Jay Inslee’s proclamation for Hoarding Disorder Week, October 18-24. Inslee presents the case for lifting awareness and understanding family members and neighbors who hoard. What is hoarding disorder? What causes it? Who is at risk? What can we do about it? Are you or someone you know living with hoarding disorder?

HOARDINGHoarding disorder is marked by a major difficulty letting go of possessions, the inability to organize them, and the acquisition of so many belongings that much or all living space becomes impeded or unusable thereby causing distress. Hoarding disorder exists on a spectrum from the sensational cases seen on television or in news to isolated incidences that grow more out of control with time. It shows up in young adulthood but can intensify in later years when age related problems interfere with functionality, memory or motivation.

Hoarding disorder is a complex stand alone or co-occurring psychiatric disorder with public health implications. It isn’t eccentricity or laziness and people with the disorder aren’t gross or simply unmotivated. Those are myths of the past. It’s distinct from collecting or cluttering. Collections are ordered and usually have a designated place. Clutter is disorganized yet doesn’t block movement or overtake necessary spaces such as a stove or a bed. Neither have a major drive to collect stuff or major difficulty letting it go. Hoarding is much more complex. So, who are hoarders? Society is just beginning to understand. In the video below you’ll see a profile of a former business woman in Orange County. She and her family talk about their perspectives on her hoarding disorder as they try to understand. She’s the subject of her daughter’s documentary, “My mother’s garden.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Dotty’s Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person Living With Dementia

October 2nd, 2015

I first encountered “Dotty’s Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living With Dementia” when it was published within a blog at The Art of Alzheimer’s in July of this year. Authored by Dorothy DeMarco and originally appearing at the Alzheimer’s Reading room Dotty’s Ten Tips are republished here with the kind permission of her son, Bob DeMarco.

Dotty’s Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living with Dementia

1. You know what makes me feel safe, secure, and happy? A smile.

2. Did you ever consider this? When you get tense and uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.

3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me, and perfectly nutty to you, why not just smile at me? It will take the edge off the situation all the way around.

4. Please try to understand and remember it is my short term memory, my right now memory, that is gone — don’t talk so fast, or use so many words.

5. You know what I am going to say if you go off into long winded explanations on why we should do something? I am going to say No, because I can never be certain if you are asking me to do something I like, or drink a bottle of castor oil. So I’ll just say No to be safe.

6. Slow down. And don’t sneak up on me and start talking. Did I tell you I like smiles?

7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. What is going to happen if you start blabbering away and you don’t have my attention, or confuse me? I am going to say No – count on it.

8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not as good as they once were, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?

9. Sometimes you talk to me like I am a child or an idiot. How would you like it if I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don’t come back and tell me you are sorry, I won’t know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along very well, and probably better than you think.

10. You talk too much — instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me all the time.

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