A three part series By Suzanne Faith RN, CDP Alan Johnson, MSW, LICSW, Cape Cod Health Care Education Program for Dementia. This program will be offered for caregivers on three consecutive Wednesdays in January (12, 19 & 26th) at the Heritage Barn of Captain Foster Homestead at 1 PM followed by questions, answers and encouragement.
The Secret Ingredients of Cognitive Wellbeing
Physical activity is an integral part of who we are. However, when someone suffers an accident or contracts an illness, a whole part of the self goes dormant until reawakened by some known sensory input. Adaptive sports address that very issue. It has the power to give someone new wings.
My personal experience on this subject was with my husband. Before his head injury, we were always doing some form of sport recreation, skiing, or bicycling. After his injury, it stopped, we did PT and speech therapy, and it helped. However, the day he joined an Adaptive Sports program with Spaulding Rehabilitation, a side of him woke up again. After he returned from the first recumbent bike session, his face and words had changed. His eyes sparkled glitters. “I have not had that much fun in a very, very long time.” It was as if it had awoken some other part of his being as if he had found a new purpose. Being an adventurous person by nature, the experience had brought back all the things he once enjoyed, or he had once wanted to do. Now he would say: “Let’s have a ride in a Hot Air Balloon.” He watched now program with a sense of: “I could do that.” The skinniest skyscraper was now something we could visit, as he marveled at the design and engineering ingenuity. Some parts of himself were reborn, and he was enthusiastic once again. I cannot enumerate the many aspects of the beneficial effects of the few sessions we attended.
We also experienced something similar when I had hired someone to do Yoga classes. Debra Hyson, a Certified Yoga Instructor with extended experience teaching elders, reconnected his right and left. It also seemed to coincide with his losing the left neglect he had been experiencing in the past two years.
In summary, I experienced a close-up of the precious gains from any physical activity on cognition and moods.
In dementia, day to day tasks can become a challenge, even with simple things, like getting dressed…
The family caregiver’s role is changed and comes without defiance, protest, and dare. Both involved will need to learn new roads and understand each other in new ways.
Anxiety – Agitation
In the following video, UCLA professor for the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program demonstrates new approaches to those behavioral challenges. He offers new ways to communicate and decrease anxiety or agitation.