Alzheimer’s and dementia are very specialized diseases. Specialized training and care strategies can significantly improve the quality of life for seniors suffering from the diseases and reduce the stress levels of the families caring for and living with these patients. Education and research are important in providing the dementia patient with the happiest life possible.
A new study out of the University of Ithaca has discovered a technique that significantly improves recall for seniors suffering with dementia. According to Yvonne Rogaiski, assistant professor in the department of speech-language pathology and audiology, seniors who use their own words to tell a story of something they have learned recently can help them retain that information on a much deeper level. Apparently, when we translate a story into our own words, there is quite a complex system of cognition that takes place, creating new connections and pathways in the brain that help imprint the material into memory.
Using a technique called “Read Attentively, Summarize, and Review,” seniors are asked to read a paragraph from an article about something novel they have never experienced before. Then they are asked to feed that back in a synopsis, putting the details of the article into their own language. Then as a final step, re-reading the paragraph out loud again. The brain activity required to process information in this fashion helps the patient significantly with recall and retention of information.
There are three other ways to defend against memory loss, and help boost memory retention.
Maintain Physical Fitness: Regular exercise can help anyone improve their cognitive abilities. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, as well as stimulating healthy hormones that enhance our brain’s ability to process information and store memories. Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients perform everyday tasks better when they are encouraged to participate in at least a short walk on a regular basis.
Exercise the Brain: There are some simple, fun activities that can be very helpful in building a cognitive reserve. Daily reading with skill appropriate material is helpful. Puzzles are fun and challenging for everyone. Even someone with dementia can benefit and enjoy these activities with some assistance. Just be careful to only assist and not take over the task completely for the patient. They need to feel that they are accomplishing their mission. Music seems to be stored in the last place to be affected by people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Listening to music, singing, playing and instrument, and just tapping one’s foot can all contribute to aiding against memory loss.
Social Activity: Loneliness and depression can cause rapid memory loss and cognitive decline. Strong social connections are very effective treatments for fending off dementia in older adults. Encourage your patient to call friends, go out with them for meals, get to church, go to the store or the park, or just get outside and smile at others.
Harmony Home Health specializes in the home care of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in Sacramento and the surrounding areas. Please call us for a free consultation regarding the care of your loved one suffering from this disease.