Apr 8, 2009

Activities bring happiness and joy to Alzheimer's sufferers

Only1Mom has me thinking about activities for persons suffering from Alzheimer's.

I just caught this article over on the Wall Street Journal -- Memories Slip, but Golf Is Forever

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

The article knocked home two things for me:
  • Persons suffering from Alzheimer's can do a lot more than most people believe.
  • Activities bring happiness and joy to Alzheimer's sufferers.

I think most people overlook this--caregivers included at times.

Silverado and other assisted-living facilities often use activities like dancing or playing music to stimulate their residents. Like golf, such activities have proved helpful in both making people with dementia feel competent and generating periods of lucidity.

The rule for memory among brain specialists is "first in, last out."

The things we learn first -- our names, for instance -- are the memories we hold on to the longest. John Daly, director for the geriatric medicine fellowship training program at the University of California at San Diego, said explicit memories -- what you had for breakfast or even the current appearance of a spouse or a child -- are stored in the cerebral cortex. Alzheimer's usually affects this part of the brain first.

Skills like swinging a golf club or playing a musical instrument are part of what is referred to as implicit or procedural memory, which is centered in the cerebellum and other areas of the brain. These are often some of the last memories Alzheimer's patients lose.

Good article, worth reading.

Bob DeMarco is an Alzheimer's caregiver and editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

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