Submitted by: Gloria Hoffner/ GuitarwithGloria@yahoo.com
The best tool for any activity director is education! There is valuable information in the activity director certification, the MEPAPS I & II courses, as well as the college courses required for certified therapeutic recreation specialists. Regional and national workshops, conferences and conventions provide information for answers to a variety of needs of retirement, long term care, personal care and adult day center activity professionals.
There is also another source of information after certification and between continuing education classes. This is the printed word. The newest research into brain chemistry, the aging process, dementia and other issues confronting seniors is addressed in numerous books with scientifically proven ideas. Listed below are a few titles that offer insight as well as practical ideas for activity professionals and certified therapeutic recreation specialists.
The Mature Mind by Gene Cohen explains the aging brain and how to work with seniors. “Memories are created when clusters of hundreds or thousands of neurons fire in a unique pattern,” Cohen writes. “The more often a particular pattern is stimulated, the more sensitive and permanent are the connections between the neurons in the pattern,” Cohen writes. “Not only does learning link neurons in new patterns, it also stimulates neurons to grow new connections.”
No One Is Too Old to Learn: Neuroandragogy: A Theoretical Perspective on Adult Brain Functions and Adult Learning by Clive A. Wilson, author of discusses how adults can learn new concepts and sharpen their minds throughout life.
The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge. In his book he states, “The more education we have, the more socially and physically active we are, and the more we participate in mentally stimulating activities, the less likely we are to get Alzheimer’s disease or dementia… “Not all activities are equal in this regard. Those that involve genuine concentration – studying a musical instrument, playing board games, reading and dancing – are associated with a lower risk for dementia.”
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin This book discuses how there is a age when we stop having an interest in new forms of music but never an interest in music. It also reveals what brain studies discover about human reaction to music.
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks. These are case studies of how music affects the human brain, such as the responses of Parkinson and stroke patients.
A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross. This New York Times reporter writes of her mother’s journey from CCRC in Florida to assisted living and then long term care in New York. She speaks frankly about the family’s view of aging, illness and care options.
My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. This is a brain scientist’s personal journey. She talks about the way she felt treated in long term care when she could not speak, could not move and appeared ‘out of it’ but heard, felt, and remembered so she could in this book document her care. She writes frankly about her reaction to caregivers.
I’m Still Here by John Zeisel gives practical advice for health care workers and families on what works and what doesn’t when assisting residents with dementia. Tips on what families should bring to a visit and how staff can encourage productive behavior in reluctant residents with dementia.
The 36-Hour Day, fifth edition: The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins is a must read for family members of residents with dementia.
An old favorite in this newest edition printed in 2011, gives insight into what life is like for the person dealing with the onset and the symptoms of dementia. It not only helps loved ones understand some of the actions and re-actions of the person with dementia, but also offers advice on ways to deal with behavioral issues and where to find medical help.
These are just a sampling of the books with benefits for activity professionals and families and can also be used for background for in-service training for other staff including certified nursing assistants.
For example, in I’m Still Here author Zeisel discusses the common problem of late stage dementia patients who do not want to bath. He says a resident with dementia may have a problem processing the language of an aide telling him/her it is time for a bath. Rather than argue with the resident, Zeisel says, bring a stack of clean towels with a bar of soap on top into the resident’s room. As the aide brings in the towels the aide should then say, “Good morning Mr. ____. This morning I’m going to assist you with your bath.” The aide should next leave the towels and soap visible to the resident as the aide gets clothing etc. ready. This gives the resident with dementia time to see the materials that represent bathing and for their brain to process these materials with the act of bathing. The residents will then be more willing to go with the aide to the bath.
A simple solution welcomed by both aides and residents it is one of many answers in the pages of this and the other books listed above. These books can be found on www. Amazon.com and are available through most public libraries and inter-library loan systems.