Nostalgia is a thing of the past, the old saying tells us... except for those of us who recognise its many benefits when it comes to reminiscence therapy.
It may seem difficult to believe in a time of on-demand streaming video and ubiquitous wall-to-wall social networking, but the humble medium of radio is currently undergoing something of a golden age thanks to a resurgence fuelled by easier accessibility to broadcasts over the Internet.
From the podcast revolution and the advent of subscription music archives has come a new wave of online services allowing everyone the opportunity to access the radio stations that they want at any time they like. Thanks to free Internet resources such as the industry-leading TuneIn Radio, we can all listen to live radio broadcasts from just about every corner of the world, in many different languages and covering just about every possible subject.
The advantages when it comes to reminiscence therapy are all too clear. Nostalgic radio channels are surfacing with increasing regularity these days, broadcasting music and features that hail from decades gone by. Iconic anthems from the war years, big band music of the fifties, the musical revolution of the sixties... you don’t have to look too far to find genre after genre from across the decades, all of it available to access free of charge at the click of a mouse. Some radio stations even feature ‘in character’ disc-jockeys, entertaining their listeners with the on-air parlance of yesteryear.
The mobile device revolution has made online radio even easier to access, thanks to apps for smartphones and tablets which allow users to surf channels by category or by geographical location. The latter is a particularly useful option if the listener happens to be a person affected by dementia whose mother tongue is a language other than English, as radio channels all across the globe are represented - most apps and websites will stipulate the language of broadcast as well as the genre of the station.
Of course, nostalgic radio doesn’t stop with live broadcasts. Podcasts - recorded audio broadcasts - are available to stream or download on many different topics, and reminiscence is certainly no exception. News broadcasts, transmissions of famous cultural figures and radio features such as dramatic plays and comedy shows are all available for download, either as a podcast or as an audio file from online archives such as the Internet Museum. Consideration of the date of initial transmission may be a consideration to bear in mind, however; earlier recordings may have gone out of copyright, making them more widely available for access, whereas more recent material may still be covered by licensees meaning that a fee may be required to hear them.
The advantages of radio broadcasts in reminiscence are wide-reaching, especially if the listener has an affinity with the medium from earlier life. And while a certain amount of Googling may be required before the most rewarding choices present themselves, the overwhelming amount of material is either free to access or inexpensive to subscribe to. As time progresses, more and more services are appearing online which are making it easier to access ever more information from different eras of radio, so it seems that there has never been a better time to get involved. World Radio Day reminds us all that ‘Radio Changes Lives’. For someone who has dementia, radio has the potential to bring comfort as well as entertainment, and reassurance in addition to insight.