Maybelle Carter Blog

Nashville Senior care volunteer

For seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, the pressure to remember things can be one of the greatest sources of stress. What can senior loved ones do to reduce this stress? Storytelling! Storytelling and Narrative therapy can be a process for replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.

How does it work?

Participants start with a silly photo and are guided through a process of creating a story about what is shown in the picture they’re given. This form of cognitive and behavioral therapy is thought to delay the progression of dementia. The process encourages communication with fellow residents, caregivers and family members.

“Laughter is contagious. Laughter is healing. And laughter can brighten the lives of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s,” said Joyce Vanderpool, one of the founders of The Creative Story Project. An Intergenerational Story Power program that pairs students in schools or youth organizations with residents of the senior community.

"We are able to take them into a care facility where they work with primarily dementia residents,” Vanderpool said. “It is a great experience for both the students and the residents. Sessions always include lots of laughter, hugs and invitations to return. And the students do return to visit their new friends and bring them love and hugs - and an enthusiasm for life that youth can provide.”

Written by: Meghan O’Dea

Monday, 29 April 2013 14:34

Keep Your Memory Young, Think Like a Kid

Canadian neurologist Kenneth Rockwood noted "As our brains age, we must prepare them to resist injury — equip them with good education, train them thoughtfully with challenging regimens, support them with nurturing environments and be prepared to refresh them from time to time." When we are children we learn to use our memories by studying the alphabet and the times tables. As adults we have plenty to remember—appointments, names, dates, procedures, events, feelings, and more. It’s important not to neglect that life’s work of memory development simply because of retirement or old age.

  • Think like a kid. Focus intently on one thing at a time. Multitasking makes it harder to take in any of the information well, and reduces your ability to remember it later. Embrace curiosity too, and keep up a love for learning. The more you learn the more you will build new synapses and connections in your brain tissue, keeping your mind young.
  • Embrace routines, with a purpose. Routines can do a lot to help you remember all your regular tasks. However, they also take away some of the necessity for remembering. If routine helps keep your day on track, try shaking things up just a little bit. For example, brush your teeth at the same time you always do, but try using the opposite hand you usually do. Or trying taking a new route to the store on the same day you always do your grocery shopping.
  • Experience new things. Yes, we just talked about the power of routine. While routine is great for remembering the day to day, you don’t want to get in a rut. Attend a symphony performance you haven’t heard before, take up dance classes, meet new people, or take a trip somewhere different.  New experiences give you new things to remember.
  • Take care of your physical health. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or another trusted medical professional about how you can improve your approach to diet and exercise. Maybe you need to cut back on sodium, or take up swimming for joint pain. Even if it’s to address another medical issue, or just to feel healthier, physical improvements are also great for your brain, making you more able to remember information.
  • Practice remembering. Try recalling events a year at a time. For example, where were you in 1968? Who were the people in your life? Who was president? What were some major political and cultural events? Where did you work? What kind of car did you drive? Bring as many details as possible to the forefront of your mind, starting with the most personal and moving out to the most global.

These strategies can all work together to improve your memory well into your senior years. Even if you are already showing signs of memory disorders, there is a possibility that these tips could slow your rate of memory loss. No matter your current state of memory function, approaching memory care proactively  can make a big different in your quality of life.

Published in Memory Care

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