pen rainbow

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Memories

A person-centered approach 
Quality of Life tools for people with short-term memory loss — 2 great ideas!  Capturing Life's Journey  (using long-term memories) & Timeslips (storytelling).

Recent studies indicate that 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia (according to the 2012 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Report by the Alzheimer's Association).  Alzheimer's accounts for around 70 percent of all diagnosed cases of dementia, while the incidence of Parkinson's is about one-tenth of that.  Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a variety of conditions resulting from the malfunction or loss of healthy nerve cells in the brain.

We all know someone with memory-loss, and I wanted to pass along two great programs presented by NPR that provide some pretty cool tools for helping people live with language and cognition difficulties.

Capturing Life's Journey by Home Instead

Home Instead, the nation's largest non-medical, in-home senior care franchise, is training caregivers in a technique that makes use of long-term memories and helps identify anxiety triggers.  Their workshops are free and available to anyone caring for someone who is memory-impaired.

Click HERE for the NPR article and a 5 minute audio version, Workshops Help Families Grappling With Alzheimer's Home Care, by Ina Jaffe, 8 January 2013

I like the idea of getting to know someone by writing down 100 things about that person in a workbook called, "Capturing Life's Journey."  Despite the loss of short-term memories, dementia patients retain their long-term memories which usually reflect the more significant aspects of a person's life, such as hobbies, places visited, pets, childhood homes, rewarding lifetime endeavors, and loved ones.

The symptoms of dementia include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, and behavioral changes.  These lead to difficulties with cooperation and functionality when it comes to daily routines.  Home Instead caregivers are trained to use long-term memories as a way to deflect attention away from physically harmful activities or situations that may trigger emotionally disruptive behavior.

It's a way to rekindle positive feelings and generate positive responses, which makes daily living easier and adds to the quality of life for everyone involved.  What a great technique, and how cool is it to use these long-term memories as a way to relate to someone who lives every day in the moment?  I love that.

Click HERE for a link to 6 informational videos on Managing Family Care for Alzheimer's Patients by Home Instead.  Each video is about 3 minutes long, and they cover gathering stories, turning everyday activities into fun, socializing, redirecting attention, and taking care of the caregivers.  Great stuff!

Timeslips from the Center on Age and Community at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Timeslips is..."an improvisational storytelling method that replaces the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine."

This method was originally designed by the program's founder, Dr. Anne Basting, as a way to give people living with dementia a "low-stress way to communicate."  The technique is simple and based on storytelling.  Think about how difficult it would be to have a conversation if you couldn't remember what someone said just a few minutes ago.  People with short-term memory loss tend to get lost in their own long-term memories because those memories are still intact.  As a result, they tend not to participate in conversations.  Human beings have a fundamental need to communicate, and this method gives people with memory loss the opportunity to connect and interact with others.

What are they doing?
It's a beautiful method that works not only with elders, but with adolescents.  I used it as a fun icebreaker on an overnight campout with a group of high school girls.  The idea is to get everyone in the group to comment on a photo by asking open-ended questions that ignite the imagination.  It is freeform brainstorming, not memory recollection.  And, it works!

Seniors who participate in regular storytelling are more engaged and alert, more cooperative, and generally, happier.  So, there you go...Anyone can tell a story and use his or her imagination to make up a story.  All you need is an interesting photo and the willingness to ask questions and listen.

Click HERE for a link to the NPR article & a 5-minute audio version, Alzheimer's Patients Turn To Stories Instead Of Memories, by Joanne Silberner_14 May 2012

Photos:  Above—My great-grandfather's career as a newspaper printer first in Malad, Idaho, c. 1915 (he is the apprentice in the top photo); and at his printing press, c. 1930's, in Pioche, Nevada.  Below—On the left, my grandmother, Pearle, and her two best friends from high school in Los Angeles.