Posts Tagged ‘Assisted living’

iPads for Those Suffering from Dementia

August 4, 2012

When I was looking for an assisted living facility for my Mom, I found A Place for Mom to be quite helpful. The following post is taken from the Blog on the A Place for Mom Website,

According to the post the director of the Health Central Park Nursing Home, Judy Skelton, “It came to us as a happy accident. What started out as one resident’s curiosity turned into something that is helping them spell, track items, make choices and read words. It’s amazing.” Mice and other control devices sometimes present problems for elders, but they find the touch pad technology easy to use, and, what I found somewhat surprising, easy to navigate. Here are nine reasons why iPads enhance the lives of seniors:

1. They’re lightweight and carry like a book.

2. They interact with residents, provide excitement and open-up a new means of communication to those who can’t express themselves in the way they desire.

3. They can monitor an elderly person’s movements, habits, temperature in their home and remind them when to take their pills.

4. Their music and music library options help to trigger memories of the past through songs of their youth and family years.

5. They encourage socialization among residents with their games, varying apps, reading and Internet search features.

6. There are apps to help encourage mobility. For example, one app shows videos of animated figures performing activities of daily living such as climbing stairs. This help patients picture themselves doing these tasks, and even mimic the behaviors.

7. Computer access allows residents more frequent contact with their children and grandchildren of the Internet generation.

8. Email updates and downloaded photos are now pride of place in residents’ rooms.

9. They encourage residents to create simple graphics and pictures and exercise their creativity.

In short, they

help improve motor skills

provide memory stimulation and cognitive function

create a positive impact on the interaction of those with dementia

More formal studies are underway, but the initial informal studies are quite positive.


Your Brain, Your Heart, and Cholesterol Medication

October 10, 2010

The motivation for this blog post is several fold. The common wisdom is that anything that is good for your heart is good for your brain. Cholesterol has only negative connotations in the popular mind. The heart is the most important organ. I wish to debunk the first two and to express a personal opinion regarding the third.

A recent article in Scientific American Mind1 bears upon the first two items. The article sites the case of a former NASA astronaut returned home from his morning walk, but did not recognize that he was home and did not recognize his wife. When he tried to understand what might have caused this amnesia only one thing came to mind. He had recently taken the statin drug Lipitor to control his cholesterol. He stopped taking Lipitor and there were no further cases of amnesia. A year later his doctor convinced him to try Lipitor again. He did. The amnesia reoccurred. So he stopped.

The article notes that it is not surprising that there is a relationship between cholesterol modifying drugs and amnesia. One quarter of the body’s cholesterol is found in the brain. Cholesterol plays a crucial role in the formation of neuronal connection that are the underlying links for memory and cognition. Cholesterol also helps insulate neurons that speed up electrical transmissions.

The Scientific American Mind article notes that there is not a straightforward relationship between statins and dementia. It appears that only a small percentage of statin users experience cognitive losses. Moreover, there are even a few studies indicating a possible beneficial relationship. The relationships are complicated because of genetic and epigenetic differences among users and differences in the chemical formulations of statins. Nevertheless, there can be harmful effects.

So to reiterate my first two points, not everything that is good for your heart is good for your brain, and cholesterol is important and provides the basis for important functions. It is not simply some evil substance that needs to be removed. Now on to my third, personal point.

I can understand why most would argue that the heart is the most important organ. When the heart ceases to function, we cease to live. However there is the state where the heart is functioning fine, but there is no indication of useful electrical activity in the brain. What should be done in this case? If the patient has had the foresight to write a living will, that will can express the patient’s desires. Otherwise, the relatives must decide. As we have seen, in these cases disputes can arise, disputes that occasion public, religious, and political debate. As I am arguing that the brain is the most important organ, you should know where I stand in this debate.

Personally I would like to take this debate to another level. For the past few years I have been visiting an assisted living facility. Some residents are there because of physical impairments and frailty that limit their ability to assist themselves. Others are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Others do not understand where they are. Many have lost large portions of their personal memories. Others can stare at a television, but not be able to comprehend the story or the event. When I reach the level of cognitive impairment where I am unable to understand and interact with my environment, I no longer wish to live, regardless of the health of my heart. Again, this is my personal preference. I have no desire to impose it on others.

Please feel free to comment and leave your own opinions regarding this issue.

1Wenner Moyer, M. (2010). It’s Not Dementia, It’s Your Heart Medication. Scientific American Mind, September/October, 14-15.

 © Douglas Griffith and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.