If you are in your 50’s or 60’s, this message is mostly about prevention. But it’s also about having some fun with Brain exercises whether you are someone with Alzheimer’s dementia or their caregiver.
My husband and I, both in our 60’s, are more cognizant of the games we play since my Mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s. Stimulating our brain is a must, whether it’s with the Brain Quest DVD Games, the latest bestselling novel, a crossword puzzle, the Sunday newspaper or a good game of Trivial Pursuit. Research shows we need to–Do something to keep our mind active everyday!
Even in late stage Alzheimer’s my mom would sit and watch my husband and son play cards for hours. She would smile and giggle and laugh out loud at their antics. Of course, they knew they had an audience as well. We were never sure if she realized what they were doing or just enjoyed being in their company. Playing cards is a good way to keep your brain active.
When Mom first noted memory loss, she used to say she had “Used her brain up. She didn’t need to stress it further.” But the truth is quite the opposite. The more you stay active with physical activity as well as mental, the better you will do.
In early stages of this disease, it is fairly easy to find ways to occupy your patient. They want something to do, but need someone to show them how to do it sometimes. Mom’s first love was crochet. She would crochet for hours in her youth but had forgotten all but the simplest chain stitch by middle stage Alzheimer’s.
Even then she could crochet a single stitch and create a chain. With this simple pattern Mom crocheted hundreds of doilies for friends and family in very late stage Alzheimer’s. When she’d forgotten how to crochet entirely, she turned to Seek ‘n Find puzzle books. Mom loved to color.
One of her happier moments was when I brought a jumbo box Crayola Crayons with a built-in sharpener on the bottom of the box. If she’d ever had a box that big or a sharpener built-in, she had no memory of it and was astounded that such a thing existed. That giant box of crayons was on permanent display in our living room and was the first thing shown to every visitor who arrived.
Later on, Mom would share with everyone who visited that she had actually done all the art work on our walls. (Of course she had not, but I don’t think the Native American Artist who had actually done the work would have been offended at all.)
I know, sometimes there is aggravation and frustration with the impetuous and foolish behavior of the person with Dementia on occasion, but if we stop and learn to see the world through their eyes, it can be quite enlightening.
We have only to remind ourselves about their condition, their mind is traveling backwards in time. Brain exercise has no affect on their mind now. It is too late for them to learn or rejuvenate their brain from the damage done by Alzheimer’s. Though their body is 70-80 years old, they have the mind and appreciation of the world similar to that of a child.
Mom was so proud of her jumbo crayons and coloring book that her only wish before she died was to have every single page colored so that she could pass it on to her grandchildren as an heirloom.
Yes, I still have it…6 years later (now 10 years later.) It means so much to me that I’ve kept it for myself ….at least for now.
A few Ways to Exercise Your Brain:
Springbok PuzzlesCrayola crayons, 64 Count (52-0064)Springbok Alzheimers PuzzleMelissa & Doug Primary Lacing BeadsSpecial Needs Sensory Activity Apron (Children & Adult Sizes)The Everything Giant Book of Word Searches: Over 300 puzzles for big word search fans!I Love Lucy: The Complete Series