The Top 5 Ipad Apps To Help Stimulate The Brain And Reduce Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers and Dementia
Technology is an ever more common staple for people of all ages. Ipads, tablets, smart phones and the like are inexpensive enough for us to have at least one, laying around our home. With this in mind, Ipads can be easily shared with our loved ones with Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease whether they live in home, or in a facility. We felt it was important to explore some of these applications, and decide which are Cre8ive Senior Solution's top 5 pics!
All of these apps are FREE of charge at the App Store - an important consideration for caregivers and family members alike. We encourage you to check these out, and see whether or not you think your loved one would benefit from these programs before use. Everyone is different, and our loved one's preferences are as unique as their fingerprints. A good idea would be to think back to the user's career, long term hobbies, accomplishments, and history and match that with the most stimulating apps.
As a best practice, this activity would be most beneficial for a caregiver or companion sit close to, and help the user engage fully with the application. Here are the 5 that Cre8ive Senior Solutions enjoyed the most for people with Alzheimers and Dementia!
1. Memory Matches 2 - Easy to use card matching game with pictures of words. Fun to play with self, or with a friend (or grandchild). Will provide tons of fun and engagement for individuals of mild to moderate levels. This reminds me of the board game "Memory" so many of us played as kids.
2. Pandora - This is free as long as you can handle a few commercials. Put in your loved one's favorite artist, and let Pandora create a playlist for you. Simple to use and will provide hours of endless entertainment. Music can enhance, and even change a negative mood to a more positive one - never underestimate the power of music!
3. Calm Meditation and Mindfulness for Relaxation - This is an excellent application for those individuals who suffer from anxiety and restlessness. Watch a calming beach or rain storm video, or listen to a 3 minute guided meditation. This can be utilized during sun downing or when your loved one is trying to lay down to sleep each night.
4. MindGames - Includes games such as attention training, basic math operations, memory enhancement and word recognition. Easy to navigate and there is quite a selection of games. This is fun for mild to moderate levels of cognitive functioning, and can be addicting!
5. YouTube - A helper can utilize YouTube to share with an individual, music, entertainment, instructional videos and more. YouTube is a endless array of videos on every topic imaginable! This site may need a guide to be more involved than with any of the other apps suggested. Focus on videos that encourage the most reminisce and opportunity to connect with the past!
When you wake up before your alarm, there's no traffic, your loved ones are getting along, and your boss loved an idea you pitched, it's easy to feel happy. You might notice that your body feels comfortable, your heartbeat is regular and you may even start to feel a little strain on your cheeks because you are smiling so much. On the other hand, when things are not so smooth, you get a parking ticket, are dealing with the stress of family care giving or even find out you need to unexpectedly move, you may notice tense muscles, twitching eyes, numbness in your limbs, headache, fatigue and the list goes on.
Life can be wild and often unpredictable and yet we seem to forget that even billionaires put their pants on one leg at a time. Expecting things to remain constant and comfortable is a thing of dreams, yet so many of us overreact out of fear and confusion when things don't go totally our way. It's all about two major choices you can make when you are confronted with either supreme elation or despair.
1. How you come into the situation; how your gut reacts to the things that happen to you. Much of this comes from your temperament, or your general sense of positive or negative. These initial thoughts are much of the pre-programmed attributes you inherit from your parents with a touch of your life experience peppered in as well. It is even thought that your personality is up to 80% genetic. If you are inherently a “glass half empty” person – fear not, with some hard work and intentional refocusing of your attitude, you can become more confident in your positivism. So when these tricky situations arise, go with your gut – and remember that there is a lesson in everything you do.
2. How we choose to view and react to what life throws (and I mean THROWS) at us at times. If you determine/establish/choose/allow early on during a stressful situation that you are a victim – you will be a victim. It takes conscious effort to look at a situation that you may be going through, and establish that you are not defined by these outside forces. True, you will be shaped by your experiences, especially the bad ones, but this purposeful determination that you are simply going through an experience makes all the difference in the world. Our bodies and brains were programmed to use fear and anxiety to stay alive during hunting and defensive situations in the past, otherwise known as fight-or-flight instincts. Allow your mind to prevent this devolution by choosing a more positive and rational view.
Keeping your chin up, and a smile on your face can be most difficult when you are dealing with the health of a loved one. Watching a slow and gradual deterioration of the person you once knew is painful and can often feel unbearable. Make the choice to see the glass half full – Make the determination that you will come through a better person – Make this life the best version that you can – Make the choice to be happy.
By: Amanda Marshall
Meditation can be loosely defined as practicing purposeful anchoring of one's thoughts in either the present moment, or simply on nothing at all. When the conscious mind can be calmed, and peace can be achieved, even for short periods of time, this practice has been found to be very beneficial. According to Jim Concotelli, PhD, in his 2007 article, Meditation and mindfulness: Designing wellness programs for the mind, body and spirit, he identifies goals to strive for during meditation:
"In meditation, people learn to focus their attention and be present and aware of the stream of thoughts that occupy the mind. A nonjudgmental awareness of these passing thoughts is the key. In a meditation practice, the active mind begins to slow by shifting its focus from normal, ongoing thoughts to a specific focus—such as the breath, a word or a short phrase—resulting in a calmer state of mind. In addition, many beneficial physiological processes take place that allow the body to experience deeper relaxation."
Many people, especially seniors, are not reaping the benefits of meditation because they feel like they don't have the knowledge or skill to successfully practice. A simple way to get started is to choose a time that you can sit down each day, and make that "YOU" time. Sit in a comfortable chair, with your feet firmly resting on the floor, and your hands resting on your thighs. Take a deep breath. Raise your gaze to the horizon, aligning your back and your head as if a string is pulling you to the sky. Close your eyes. Take another deep breath. Notice what it feels like this time, how the air feels entering your nose, your lungs, and your stomach. Clear your mind of clutter. Focus on the sounds around you. Let the air out, and visualize negativity, anger, fear and anxiety leaving your body. Breathe in once more and see light, health, and happiness coming into your soul. Take long, slow breaths in and out, eyes closed, using these visualization techniques until your mind and body feel calm and at peace. When you are ready, open your eyes, and thank yourself for taking the time to nurture your most important asset - YOU!
Repeat this process liberally.
So what are the top 5 reasons that you should carve time into your busy schedule to meditate?
1. Stress Reduction: Positive effects are often seen when meditation, deep breathing and even prayer are practiced daily. The amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress, shrank in biological size in test groups studied by Harvard neuroscientists in 2015. Lowered heart rates, decreases in depression and anxiety, and even an increase in happiness and contentment have been shown to come from daily meditation.
2. Becoming Centered: Taking the time to sit with yourself and clear your mind to the "life noise" is extremely therapeutic. Having the opportunity to focus on your breathing, and to release negativity and stress, allows seniors to focus on what is truly important. Those who take care of themselves first, are much more successful in taking care of their partners, friends, and loved ones.
3. Increases Longevity: A 2013 study in London that examined a sample of people diagnosed with cancer who chose to implement "lifestyle changes" including yoga and breathing exercises, as well as regular meditation as their treatment method. Of the sample group, 100% showed increased length of telemeres on their chromosomes, a telltale sign of increased life expectancy. The telemere length typically shortens as we age, unless we implement brain stimulating techniques, such as meditation.
4. Improve Mood: According to the June 7, 2015 edition of BioMedical Research Intenational, MRI images were taken of participants who engaged in meditation over the course of 8 weeks. There was evidence of deactivation of parts of the brain during their meditative states, such that an increase in wellness was noted even after meditation stopped. Chronic pain was diminished, anxiety declines, and feelings of happiness were improved. Stress-related physical symptoms were consistently decreased with this practice.
5. May Slow Alzhiemer's Progression: According to a 2015 study by Harvard neuroscientists, positive increases in thickness of four distinct regions of the brain were found when seniors engaged in meditation. Author Brigid Schulte shared these four regions as being affected in a positive manner: The posterior cingulate, the left hippocampus, the temporo parietal junction (TPJ) and the Pons. In plain English, the benefits seen from these biological improvements included staying focused, increased learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation including increased empathy and compassion.
I hope this has inspired you to get out there and meditate!
Bueno, V. F., Kozasa, E. H., da Silva, M. A., Alves, T. M., Louzã, M. R., & Pompéia, S. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation Improves
Mood, Quality of Life, and Attention in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Biomed Research
International, 20151-14. doi:10.1155/2015/962857
Concotelli, J. (2007). Meditation and mindfulness: designing wellness programs for the mind, body and spirit. Journal On
Active Aging, 6(3), 28-35.
Healthy lifestyle 'slows cellular ageing' - Healthy lifestyle changes such as eating whole foods and practising yoga could
reverse the ageing of the body's cells, a new study suggests. (n.d).
Shulte, B. (2015, May 26). Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain. The
Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-
When the path leads us astray.....
Many of us worry that we may become more forgetful as we age. We assume that some forgetfulness is normal, yet others think it is surely a sign that Alzheimer's Disease is eminent. There are many common reasons that you or your loves one may be experiencing mild memory loss:
The first step to stop and make a self-assessment. Have there been changes in your life that could be causing this change in mental state? If so, make sure to pay active attention to caring for yourself or loved one, and monitor the results. If the problem persists, it may be time to seek help from your doctor. Certain symptoms are more serious than others, and you should seek help immediately. These symptoms include:
The Alzheimer's Association is a great resource for more tips and tools to assess the next steps for you or your loved one's journey.
It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.
~ Adlai Stevenson
It's easy to get caught up in the day to day stresses, and to "put off" being happy. This is just a little reminder to pay attention, be present, and enjoy each and every moment. With an average life expectancy upwards of 75 years, we all have plenty of time to get our work and our play in, so focus on the positive and takes things in stride. Our tombstones will have just 2 dates, but the dash in between is the most important part. Make it count!
Here are some fun ways to break up the monotony in your day to day life to inspire wellness:
It takes a lot of work to get into the present and to stay there long term. Come up with your own list of go-to ideas to keep you in the here and now. And most of all, don't forget to find pleasure in the everyday things. You can do it!
*Please leave a comment about how YOU stay positive and present when times get tough!
Gardening is a wonderful hobby for people young and old alike. The mix of the fresh air, vitamin D, and a little sweat reminds us all that we are alive, and part of something larger than ourselves. Simply the act of grounding oneself by hearing the birds chirping, seeing wildlife around us, and tying something new can be life changing. Gardening includes elements of physical activity that raise our heart rates, encourage stretching and lifting, and help us to maintain overall health. Studies show that gardening, which can simply mean watering and observing a community garden, can lower blood pressure, increase healing time, and reduce stress. For individuals with physical restrictions, raised garden beds, and placement of the plants in a shady area can be very important. If you work with seniors in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, "gardening club" can be a very rewarding activity to improve your enrichment programming. If you simply are caring for a loved one at home, take time outside, and reap the benefits of a home grown garden!
Hello and welcome to our website! This is my co-founder, Layla, my trusty side kick! We hope you visit back often as our product line and tools grow.
Our vision for this blog is to serve as a sharing community for long term care professionals, activity leaders, nurses, and family members alike. So many of the long-term care nurses, activity staff, directors and more see things from one unique 8 hour perspective, when we know this is not truly reality. When a member of your family is diagnosed, the world can seem to stop. What comes next? How do I help preserve their memory and function as long as possible? What happens when I can't care for them in my home on my own? These are just some common questions from families that are learning to deal with the daily trials and tribulations of Alzheimers. Many online resources require you to have an advanced degree to figure out their content, an others have you hysterically crying because the diagnosis appears to be overtly bleak. On this blog I will discuss topics that come up in my work or life that are relevant to those with experience (personal or professional) with Alzheimer's/Dementia. Please feel free to add comments and email me for suggestions on later posts.
Thanks again for coming by, and please stop back soon!
Welcome to Cre8ive Senior Solutions! I'm Amanda Andrade and I'm a gerontologist, a teacher, and an innovator around all things "wellness." I absolutely love creating new and unique solutions geared toward happiness and engagement for those affected by Alzheimer's or related dementias. Working to solve the individualized and complex problems seniors, and their families face is what inspires me and renews my hope for the future. I hope you join me on this journey, and share your family stories along the way!