Brain Games For Seniors With Dementia
What Causes Dementia?
You may be wondering what causes dementia, because it seems that everyone has this question. Dementia can be a very serious condition that will greatly affect the way that you or your loved one live life. There are many different types of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer's disease. But no one actually knows what causes dementia, nor can it generally be proved that anyone had dementia until after they have died because it requires a brain autopsy to confirm the diagnosis. One famous person with a rare type of dementia was Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld novels and others. He had a dementia caused by a fungus but this is not common. While a diagnosis of dementia often cannot be proved while the person is alive, there are treatments that can help with these different types of dementia, when the doctor suspects that dementia is affecting the patient.
Dementia affects the parts of your brain that are responsible for recognizing and remembering things. When this part of your brain starts to deteriorate, it will be difficult for you to remember recent events or anything else. As time goes on, you will become confused, you will forget what you have said and how you have said it, and you will have problems with memory loss. and also poor judgement. It can be caused by many different things. Sometimes it can be caused by a traumatic event that you had in your life. This can include accidents or illnesses. Some medications can also cause brain cell death, which may lead to dementia. Different types of strokes and head injuries can also result in brain cell death.
Very often, patients with dementia remember everything from their childhood all the way up to adulthood, very clearly. This is where brain games for seniors with dementia can help. While current events may be very hazy and not easily remembered or may even be confusing, very often seniors with dementia can remember the smallest details from childhood, including, for instance who lived across the street from them, the number of children they had, even their house number. They can remember the games they used to play, people's names and the walks they took.
Dementia Mind Exercises
It is more useful for those communicating with people with dementia to talk about the past, to encourage them to remember everything they can about their childhood and early adulthood. This can even be useful for younger members of the family to help with because they will be learning about their own ancestors, through oral history. An older person may be very happy to talk about their past, their first job, the money they earned and stories from childhood or early adulthood. So, one mind exercise is to talk with them about happy times in their past. They may well tell you the same story over and over but communication is good for them.
My sister in law has early dementia and while what she says about current issues is often nonsense (though not always) because she believes some things that are patently nonsense, such as planes flying over her garden and the pilot calling down to her, she is very clear and coherent when talking about her childhood and what happened then. She and her brother have great conversations about their childhood friends and the games they all played.
While physical occupations are not actually mind exercises, keeping the person busy with something can also help them stay as mentally active as possible and happy. My sister in law did a lot of knotting when she was younger but gave it up over the last 10 or 20 years. She probably found that she could no longer follow a pattern, though she did not say so at the time, just gave up knitting. Recently, I had some knitting out to see whether she would be interested in it and she seized on it eagerly. She cannot cast on, or at least if she does, she makes mistakes with the number of stitches and casts on using loops of wool. She also cannot handle long pieces of knitting. After trial and error, I have found that knitting with the super chunky wool is best because it slows her down. She used to be a fast knitter and with the finer wools she still tries to do this but makes mistakes, drops stitches and gets frustrated, then pulls it all out until the wool is not fit to knit. I now cast on and do a couple of rows to get the knitting started and she is happy doing plain knitting, slowly on the super chunky. I say "slowly" but she is still a faster knitter than me and her knitting is very neat.
A friend who works as a physical therapist in an old people's home suggested knitting squares. This also worked brilliantly. My sister in law is now knitting squares in super chunky wool. We have 9 done so far and it has also helped her memory. How do I know? My daughter is expecting another baby, so I said the squares would be used to make a patchwork blanket. Whenever she sees the knitting waiting for her she remembers it is for a baby blanket, which before we started, she kept forgetting about the coming baby.
Physical exercise is also a good mind exercise for people with dementia. I try to get my sister in law out for a walk every time she comes down to see us and believe it helps her. Movement and exercise is good for everyone and she would not take any exercise unless someone asked her to walk with them. She likes going out for the newspaper, so that is a good excuse. She often reads it several times because she does not remember what was in it.
Dementia can be a very complicated disease, but that is why we need to have all the facts. It is important for patients and their families to understand dementia so that they can seek the right type of dementia treatment at the right time in their loved one's life. Just remember that everyone gets old, and everyone goes through different stages of old age. If you are a loved one of someone who is showing signs or symptoms of dementia, be sure to seek treatment as soon as possible.
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