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Jigsaw puzzles are a popular activity for people with dementia, and rightly so. Not only do they offer many benefits for the person, they are fun to do! Unfortunately, many people with dementia or Alzheimer's stop doing jigsaw puzzles because they find them too challenging and difficult to finish. This doesn't have to be the case.
When we bring home a new puzzle and show it to the person they are excited to open the box and get started. We dump the pieces on the table and the person digs right in sorting through the pieces. They find a few that they are looking for, but then the excitement starts to wear off. They slow down in their searching, start to get distracted by other things. They lose interest in the puzzle. Is it that they aren't really interested in doing puzzles or is there another reason?
As spring arrives, I am reminded of a creative program that I used several years ago. We made paper sculptures of irises and chicks. This is an adaptation of Origami – the art of paper folding, often associated with Japanese culture. Origami purists transform a flat sheet of square paper into a finished sculpture without cuts, glue or marking on the paper. These two activities use all of the above and are therefore not true origami.
We recently came across a study done by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences that took a closer look at using computers for dementia residents in long term care facilities. They selected 14 residents over 65 years of age and with a diagnosis of dementia from three facilities and offered them a 12 week program to engage in computer activity for up to 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week (see "Feasibility of providing computer activities for nursing home residents with dementia".
This year, the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association (CTRA) and Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) are joining together to offer one combined conference. Donna Ray, the founder of Keeping Busy, has been selected to be a speaker at the conference. Her talk, with the rather academic title of "Program Development and Delivery Based on Montessori for Dementia", is all about learning to expand and enhance the participants' use of Montessori techniques in their everyday practice. Perhaps it would be better titled "There's more to Montessori than folding towels and sorting coins"!
This cartoon is making the rounds, and the caption "How others see you is not important. How you see yourself means everything." is a wonderful sentiment for most of us. For people with dementia however, there's much more to it. How others see the person with dementia is important because they often depend on those people for their care. Those caregivers must understand how the person sees themselves and treat them accordingly. We don't have the benefit of seeing the shadow on the wall, we have to figure it out.
In reading articles about dementia (or major neurocognitive disorder, as it is also called), reference is often made to “cognitive domains”. In fact, in order for a diagnosis of dementia to be made (as per the American Psychiatric Association 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), there must be evidence of a significant cognitive decline from the previous level of function in at least one cognitive domain. The decline must be severe enough to interfere with the person’s activities of daily living. Preferably the decline will be documented by standardized neuropsychological testing or another quantified clinical assessment. So what are these “cognitive domains”?
The term “dementia” is often used to describe any disease that affects a person’s memory or mental abilities, but in fact there are several distinct types of dementia, each with different characteristics.
In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association published the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which among other things, provides the diagnostic criteria for different types of dementia. It is used to diagnose and classify mental disorders, including dementia, by the medical community in much of the world.
The Nova Scotia Nurses Union recently released a report on what they are calling "a crisis" in long-term care. The report says that Canada's health care system is lacking in resources to provide adequate care for people who can no longer live at home and require long-term care. The problems include a demoralized, understaffed workforce, excessive workloads and unsafe working conditions, the report says.
While these same problems exist in other provinces, they are particularly acute in Nova Scotia because of the high proportion of seniors. The age of residents in long term care is also by far the oldest in Canada, with an average age of 88. All of this contributes to the problem, says the report.
There are hundreds of books on all aspects of dementia and dementia care. These are our "go to" books that we find to be particularly useful and conform to Montessori Principles. They range from practical activity books to instructive care guidelines and suggestions to the more academic. To buy a book, click on the desired Amazon button and you will be redirected. We offer both Amazon.ca and Amazon.com because sometimes there is a price/availability difference.