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Research on care strategies and quality of life
Helping dementia patients recall grandchildren's names
New telemedicine program offers specialized speech therapy for language problems
People with Alzheimer's dementia or primary progressive aphasia often have language problems, struggling to retrieve the name of a grandchild or find the words to order dinner in a restaurant. But their aphasia often goes untreated because most speech-language pathologists are trained to help children or individuals with stroke, not those with dementia.
Northwestern scientists are closing that gap by developing a new program -- called the Communication Bridge -- in which specially trained speech-language pathologists offer personalized therapy over the web to those with dementia-related language impairment, also known as aphasia. A new pilot study shows the participants made significant improvement in recalling the words they had found troublesome after two months of therapy, and maintained that improvement after six months.
Quest Diagnostics has announced the release of CogniSense, it's digital cognitive assessment tool to assist physicians in diagnosing, assessing, and managing the care of people with cognitive dysfunction.
Quest says its design objective for CogniSense was to overcome the various limitations inherent in conventional, paper-based cognitive assessment, such as the inability to compile easily trackable data over time or integrate information with patients’ electronic health records (EHRs). CogniSense incorporates a digitized version of the Memory Orientation Assessment Test (MOST), a protocol in which memory recall techniques, information comprehension tests, and tablet-based clock drawing are used by healthcare practitioners to assess the cognitive health status of patients’ memory, orientation, sequential memory,and perception of time.
CogniSense tests a patient’s memory, orientation, and executive organization in less than 10 minutes, and generates cognitive score and PDF report that is stored digitally in Quest’s Care360 cloud portal, and pushed to supported electronic medical records (EMRs). Qualified healthcare providers administer the test to patients in an office setting, with a per-test charge automatically billed to their Quest Diagnostics account, or paid by credit card (the test currently costs $14.99). CogniSense testing is administered and scored electronically, yielding an initial baseline score which, along with subsequent progressive scores, can be stored in Care360 along with any of nearly 600 electronic health records that connect to Quest.
New Technological developments can help caregivers track their family members when out and about
Social isolation is a common symptom seen when people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. Fortunately, researchers are using technology to help people with dementia to get back on their feet and safely walk independently. Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University, working with Stockport Memory Clinic and KMS Solutions, have developed a new android smartphone app called “MyTrav” to give location services and assurance to caregivers of both young and old.
This phone app comes with two wearable and portable GPS based wristbands that can pinpoint the location of the wearer when the phone is on. The goal of this project is to reduce loneliness and isolation and allow the wearer to engage in meaningful activities outside the home in a safe and secure manner. “The technologies we have developed can support independent living in the community by enabling the person living with dementia to move independently in safe areas, the carer to locate them using GPS tracking and the person with dementia or their carer to contact each other in case of an emergency.”
SOURCE: ScienceDaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160519082432.htm
iPod therapy uses music to help anxiety and depression in people with dementia
Music is becoming more popular as a means of therapy for people with dementia, and there have been positive results seen particularly in the Southminster retirement community. Workers have noticed that using meaningful music improves the quality of life by helping with anxiety, building connections, reliving memories, and creating a joyful environment. Even though memory is a common issue with dementia, songs and music work wonders in bringing back lyrics and memories from the past.
At the Southminster retirement community, coordinators are interviewing seniors to see what music works for them, and what songs to avoid. Using key signs like foot tapping, facial expression, and general body language, they make playlists for their community. This method of therapy has been used as a great way to connect the young generation with the old generation, and can be used in any family or home with the help of digital technology.
In fact, the Alzheimer Society of Calgary is introducing a music program for members of the Adult Day Program Club 36. Read more about it here.
A compelling body of research demonstrates that music has a powerful role in enhancing health and well-being in older adults, such as improving mood and self-esteem, reducing depression, helping cope with pain and stress and promoting healing and recovery in post-surgical patients (SJR 2012). There is growing evidence that listening to familiar, favorite tunes can evoke memories and stimulate cognitive functioning in people with dementia (alz.org). Playing familiar music has also been found to stimulate conversation in people in the middle-late stages of Alzheimer’s disease with a diminished ability for spontaneous conversation and language challenges (JMT, Volume 51, Issue 2). Music also improves the quality of life by calming agitated minds, lifting mood and morale, and creating joy.
Sources: The power of music in the lives of older adults in SJR 2012
Research Studies in Music Education June 2013, Vol.35 no.1 87-102
The Role of Singing Familiar Songs in Encouraging Conversation Among People with Middle to Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease, Ayelet Dassa & Dorit Amir, Journal of Music Therapy jmt.oxfordjournals.org
1. J Music Ther (2014) 51 (2): 131-153. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thu007 First published online: June 19, 2014
Research has shown that the process of art creation and art appreciation can enhance the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of people of all ages, including the geriatric population. Engaging in expressive art, such as painting, pottery, creative writing, etc. helps in improving mood and attention, reducing stress, coping with pain, providing pleasure and enhancing self-esteem (Annals of long-term care). This has been found to apply for healthy seniors as well as those with dementia.
Source: Art Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, by B. Chancellor et. Al, Journal of AD 39(2014)1-11, IOS press
Training for person with dementia and their spouse improves communication
Communication and socializing can become difficult for people with dementia; many conflicts between persons with dementia and their care partners are a result of misunderstandings or the lack of skills to communicate feelings or needs. These conflicts may be a source of stress and emotional distress for both parties.
However, a recent study indicates that these skills can be developed and maintained with practice. This study was unique in its inclusion of people with dementia in the training; lead author Christine Williams stated, “there has been very little focus on the [person] with dementia's role in maintaining spousal relationships through conversation.” The team developed and implemented a communication skills program over 10 weeks; the training taught care partners to be clear, concise, and respectful, and to refrain from arguing and testing their partner’s memory, and it provided people with dementia the opportunity to have conversations with researchers specifically trained in the communication difficulties associated with dementia.
The program covered verbal and non-verbal communication and included unsociable behaviours, such as being aloof, unresponsive, and yelling, and sociable behaviours like being affectionate, humorous, and answering questions. 15 couples participated in the training, and conversations between the two were videotaped and analyzed over the course of the study. Using the rating tool for helpful and unhelpful behaviours, the team established that both parties’ communication skills improved as a result of the training. “As patients progress with dementia, couples don't have to lose everything – especially if they are engaged, if they can still relate to one another and if they focus on the here and now,” said Williams.
Source: Medical News Today
I don't know what I'd do without Club 36! It really gives me the break I need to be able to keep him at home a little longer.