Memory Care: How stimulating creativity in the mind helps dementia.
Memory care programs provided in the scope of assisted living are all about creating an environment that minimizes the effects of memory loss and guiding assisted living residents through a lifestyle and activities which help to prevent memory decline.
To help put into perspective the importance of memory care in assisted living communities, we should frame the magnitude of memory loss in older Americans.
The two most common neurodegenerative disorders that occur in elderly adults are Alzheimer’s and dementia. Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and the number is expected to rise to over 16 million by the year 2050. Dementia is characterized by a group of symptoms involving loss of memory, and degradation of thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily activities.
As part of a concerted effort to identify ways to treat and reduce the effects of memory loss, intensive research analyzing neurodegenerative diseases has been conducted.
This is a major challenge because these diseases by nature do not have a known cure, and while researchers continue to search for cures, a large amount of research time is spent examining alternative treatments which seek to reduce symptoms, and slow the progression of the diseases, and significant progress has been made in this area. Memory care and assisted living facilities have been implementing these new evidence-based therapeutics. This includes special brain stimulating exercises, puzzles and other activities that exercise your brain and evoke creativity.
New research suggests writing and reading poetry can help people suffering from dementia and Alzheimers.
Some unfortunate symptoms and signs of memory disorders include agitation and anxiety that can arise with loss of cognitive power. Poetry has a calming and relaxing effect which is a natural counter to these symptoms. This is an interesting quote from a caregiver in an assisted living facility,
“So I sat down a safe distance away and said, 'I'm just going to try reading this poem. If you don't like it that's fine, but let's see what you think of it and I read the poem through. She relaxed back in her chair, went very quiet, and at the end, she said, straight away, 'read another'."
Dr. Daniel Potts is an attending neurologist at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center and founder of the Cognitive Dynamics Foundation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He’s also a poet whose father started watercolor painting after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Potts says he witnessed his dad benefit from that creative expression and says poetry is also powerful in “tapping into the core of human beings and uncovering elements of their personhood.” Sharing poetry is a way for families to connect with their loved ones suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's by tapping into abstract forms of thought which help to stimulate memory.
Part of providing the best memory care is incorporating new discoveries into care programs, and assisted living communities providing memory care are working to incorporate creative sessions with poetry, arts, music and other activities to help improve symptoms in their residents.
If you have a family member who is experiencing some form of memory loss, a memory care provides intellectual stimulation which will help your loved one maintain control of their condition so they can focus on things they enjoy. It may help you family to understand the options available to you for help with memory loss. Please consider getting in touch with us at Ventura Townehouse to learn more about our Memory Care program, or to tour our beautiful community and meet our staff.
Memory Research References:
Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet. (2017). National Institute on Aging. Retrieved 7 September 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
For Families | Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. (2017). J-alz.com. Retrieved 4 September 2017, from http://www.j-alz.com/links-forfamilies
Residential Care | Caregiver Center | Alzheimer's Association. (2017). Alzheimer's Association. Retrieved 7 September 2017, from http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp
Poetry Helps Alzheimer’s & Dementia Patients Unlock “Mind’s Eye” | Headlines for the Hopeful. (2017). Hopefulheadlines.org. Retrieved 22 September 2017, from https://hopefulheadlines.org/2016/08/31/poetry-helps-alzheimers-dementia-patients-unlock-minds-eye/
Jones, E., & Betts, T. (2016). Poetry, philosophy and dementia. The Journal Of Mental Health Training, Education And Practice, 11(2), 75-80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/jmhtep-10-2015-0050