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Why does a moment matter and how can it be defined?

Hear Prof Paul Camic explain why we are interested in the moment, and why they matter to people living with dementia and everybody around them.
We’re interested in the moment because all of our lives are made up of moments. And some of those moments are wonderful and exciting. Others are mundane, and others can be painful and disappointing. And for not only the general population, but people with dementia also have these same moments. If we can understand, better understand the experiences that people with dementia have in moments in their day-to-day lives, in particular our interest in their experiences with the arts and with cultural activities, I think we’ll understand their lived experiences more and will be able to offer them, as researchers and as practitioners, different types of services that more meet their needs.
For people with dementia or their carers, to only rely on memory can cause a great deal of tension and conflict where the family member is desperately hoping that the person with dementia remembers something, and the person with dementia is beginning to feel quite badly about themselves and really challenging their own identity because they can’t remember certain things. And in the moment experiences allows them to stay focused in a particular moment in time rather than having to recall memories where they might have more difficulty and struggle with, or to be focused on just reminiscence, which many arts and dementia programmes are.
Whereas in the moment allows a person to participate fully in that moment, emotionally and cognitively, as they’re learning and also discovering something about themselves. I think arts-based activities lend themselves particularly well to in-the-moment experiences because they do not necessarily rely on memory or previous knowledge. Now, that’s certainly not to say that learning how to play an instrument or learning how to paint, for example, does not require many, many years of practise. But putting that aside, people can still experience many art forms without having had previous learning. Or perhaps the last time they’ve had that is in primary school.
And in particular, many people that we’ve worked with now– there’s been several hundred– are consistently saying many things that they’re surprised by being engaged with art activities that they hadn’t thought they had any ability or skill to be involved with. And we’re hearing reports from their caregivers that they’ve begun talking about these activities after sessions are over, which is something that hasn’t happened for many of them before. The different ways we have been researching moments vary. One is to look at different time frames. And we’ve been looking at a 60 to 90-minute time frame which occurs in many art activities. And in those time frames, we’ve done some– look at measures before and after that event.
But we’re also very interested in micro-moments, those moments that occur before one song is sung and the other one has just ended; those moments where someone is handling a museum object and they’ve passed it to the person next to them, or those moments where someone has picked up a drum and is starting to be in tune with the rhythm for the first time in a group singing session. We’re trying to understand what’s happening during those experiences for people with a dementia.

Hear Prof Paul Camic explain why we are interested in the moment, and why they matter to people living with dementia and everybody around them.

This step will also focus on explaining the different ways in which a moment can be defined and considered, exploring the relationship between memory and in-the-moment experience, and how this relates to identity as well as often being the cause of tensions.

The step also addresses how learning to appreciate the moments of experiences that people living with dementia have can lead to a better provision of services, as well as why arts-based activities are well suited for in-the-moment experiences for people living with dementia.

CREDITS We would like to thank Alicia Clarke/ Dance for Life for providing the supplementary images for this video.
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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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