Review of Book by Linda Levine Madori
By Andrew Knights, Instrumental Professor
Trinity College of Music, London and Visiting Lecturer, Southampton University, U.K.
In this book Dr. Levine Madori examines the beneficial effects of creative therapy with elderly people and especially with those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She has codified her work into a method to which she has given the name of the book’s title, or TTAP for short. This book is more than a very clearly outlined introduction to her method; it is full of practical ideas.
The author, a keen painter, has seen in the course of her professional work how her passion, the arts, has been able to provide a powerful underlying structure for meaningfully creative and life-enhancing activities for groups of older people. Her book has six chapters and five appendices. Three of the latter are available to be copied and used by therapists. Dr. Madori begins by putting TTAP in the context of brain function. This chapter will be a particularly useful background for general artists and musicians who are keen to use their skills in therapeutic work. She goes on to put TTAP in the context of working with older adults, both well and ill. The aim of TTAP is that groups of older people are able to enjoy enriched leisure with appropriately challenging activities. They are stimulated by music, visual art and language and can become creative, perhaps in a way they never attempted earlier in their lives. The goal is that older people should achieve an enhanced quality of life or “flow”, as coined by the psychologist Csikszentmihalyi.
The third chapter outlines the work of Recreation Therapists. It covers the important overlap of therapeutic activity with meaningful leisure activity.
Interestingly, Dr. Madori cites U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics which suggest there are some 12,000 salaried jobs in geriatric settings for recreational therapists. This number is predicted to grow rapidly over the next few years. The U.S.A. is clearly in advance of other countries in recognizing the importance of recreational therapy and it is likely that it will be these new recreational therapists who will find this book of greatest interest.
Three areas of therapeutic recreation are then discussed; functional intervention, leisure education and leisure participation. The importance of music and its function as a liberator of stored memories across the brain is described, together with that of physical movement which is so often inspired by music. She points out that music can often stimulate memories in long-term storage where verbal conversation can fail. This seems to be behind her desire to mix art forms. Thus, in Dr. Madori’s TTAP method, music, words and art are all brought together under different themes – e.g. broad (seasons, culture and hobbies) or specific (colours, animals, the oceans, mountains, families, travel, food, smells and books) -- to stimulate each other. TTAP therapists are encouraged to proceed with their groups by a series of steps; individual thoughts and group ideas can progress with musical stimulus to images, forms (sculpture), movement, words, taste sensations and then the social event, the step where all the previous activities come together as a group experience.
A wealth of practical ideas and tips are detailed which should provide much help for therapists. Certainly, therapists will have their own ideas as to what is most helpful in this book for their own circumstances but there is much here to generate new programs for creativity for all of us. It will be particularly stimulating for new therapists but will also show administrators of care programs just how beneficial “the arts” can be in creating meaningful and stimulating activities for older adults.