Every life is a story.
The story starts at birth and yet also has roots that stretch back before that time. And the story continues until the end of our life and beyond. We leave a legacy for those we love and those who love us.
Facing your later years with a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult, even frightening. Loved ones become caregivers and sometimes they can feel at a loss of what to do.
One positive solution is cognitive stimulation therapy.
Cognitive stimulation therapy benefits health older adults and delays cognitive decline. It can also stabilize or even improve cognitive functioning in individuals who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Working with a coach changes the stories of those challenged by dementia.
i wanted to share a few stories with you, that were shared with me:
Jackie’s Story – She Called Me By Name
I had the most amazing experience on Friday afternoon. Sitting at a table with a few people in the pub of a local retirement residence, I was chatting with the new activity coordinator. A friend, a woman with whom I have been working three times each week, called me by name.
Now, that may not seem very amazing, except that my friend suffers from Alzheimer’s. The fact that she remembered my name from past visits and initiated the conversation by asking me how I was – well, it was a phenomenal occurrence.
I knew that the cognitive stimulation sessions we shared were having an impact on her, and that she was becoming more aware of her surroundings but to have her reach out to me like that – it moved me to tears.
Cognitive stimulation and engagement with another human being is essential to our sense of personhood. When Alzheimer’s begins to rob the individual of the ability to remember, to engage and to be motivated, it is important to have some common ground on which to meet. Through our sessions, my friend and I share a lot of common experiences.
Even though we are separated by a generation, we have been able to bond through music, poetry and laughter. The relationship of trust that we have built allows her to risk failure by pushing her abilities to solve problems, complete puzzles and play memory games. This brain stimulating activity has made her more aware of her surroundings, more willing to engage with others to the point where last Friday, she called me by name.
It was a wow moment!
George’s Story – He is a Different Man
Karen was an activity director at a retirement home. She was busy and was responsible for lots of residents. George lived with his wife in the retirement residence. He was retired from his medical profession and had just received a dementia diagnosis.
As you can imagine that diagnosis was devastating. He withdrew into himself and into his room. He refused to come out and participate in community activities and became very isolated. This was very distressing for his wife.
Karen really wanted to help George. So, she started using our program with him and the results were impressive:
I have completed 5 sessions with […] and I have already noticed a HUGE improvement in both his cognitive skills and eagerness to participate
She worked with him three times a week and soon he was participating in community activities.
His wife […], has thanked me because she sees him getting out of his room more and sleeping less. I am so excited because he is a totally different man, and his self esteem is improving session by session. All in all, I am so excited about this program and so very happy I decided to do it.
Karen made such a difference in the lives of this couple. She gave George and his wife an opportunity to continue to interact in their community. They could continue to create memories.
Corinne’s Story – Her World Opened Up
Mary Ann is another cognitive coach who is making an impact with our program. She works with a home care company. Corinne was very isolated and lonely. She would spend a lot of her days sleeping. When Mary Anne would speak with her she would talk about the same thing, using the same sentences over and over.
Her family was very discouraged and concerned.
Mary Ann started the Fit Minds program with her. Within a few weeks she reported:
“Corinne’s mind has opened up a bit more! Simply splendid to see and for her to be able to share precious memories. Also, to see her face light up in recalling them. To see her smile, laugh and giggle is such a precious experience. Corinne has so much joy as she shares her stories with me. She may even say “Oh… I had forgotten about that!” and then laughs about it. She is enjoying herself.”
Mary Ann could track Corinne’s progress in the Fit Minds’s system and create session plans that really helped her come out of herself. Mary Ann found that Corinne was now interacting with the other people in her residence. She was talking and smiling. Her world had opened up!
What a wonderful gift!
Martha’s Story – They Haven’t Given up on Me
Martha was scared. She was confused and paranoid. She was having problems, but her family didn’t really know what to do about it.
The crisis came when the paranoia and hallucinations hit an all time high.
Eventually Martha received a diagnosis of Lewy Body dementia. Martha’s life changed drastically. She initially moved into a retirement home, not a memory neighbourhood.
On her first trip to her neurologist, she was asked to write something. She said she couldn’t write. The neurologist encouraged her to write and she wrote –
Her daughter started Martha with the Fit Minds program. Martha worked with a Fit Minds coach two and then three times a week. Her ability to communicate improved. Six months later, at her second appointment with the neurologist, her Lewy Body had stabilized. She could write out a sentence describing where she lived.
She told her coach,
“I feel like they haven’t given up on me.”
Her daughter said, “I’d give a lot to have more time with my mom.” And now she is getting that gift of time. Her mom is alert, can interact and has been able to remain in her retirement community.
And now it is time to write your story. You can have magical moments. You can share laughter. There of course will be tears. But walking with someone you love right to the end is creating a legacy of love. It makes a difference. and we are here to help.
If you want to talk to us about coaching – just shoot us an email: Email Fit Minds
Very satisfying. Keep up the great work, Nicole.
What a heart-warming moment! With Alzheimer’s, you’ve got to cherish those little moments when they come. Surely the cognitive stimulation activities are doing something. This is a woman who didn’t know you years ago, so she’s not falling back on old memories of you, correct?
She met me in April for the first time and I’ve been working with her
for about 10 weeks. It has been an amazing experience and has truly
touched my heart. The neatest part is that we have become friends and
share laughter, stories and opinions on a range of subjects.