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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Behind those Vacant Eye’s

Behind those vacant eye’s is a person, a being who has lived a full life.  With memories and emotions, with knowledge and experiences.

Behind those vacant eye’s is a person, a being who has lived a full life.  With memories and emotions, with knowledge and experiences.

It’s that vacant look that scares me and serves as a reminder that Alzheimer’s and Dementia takes a piece of your loved one away, little by little.

You experience the highs and lows very quickly and just when you see a glimmer of light, and begin to hope that things may be getting better, it’s dashed away.

When I see my loved one’s like this I feel like I can literally see their soul trapped behind those vacant eyes, inside they are still them, the person they used to be and I think they’re trapped inside their own memories.  A carousel of emotions and thoughts.

But is there a way we can slow down the process, prevent further loss before it occurs?  Through Activities, Nutrition, or memory triggering senses?

Research I've found so far is Memory degenerative diseases can be eased, slowed and even helped using brain train concepts but ultimately, it's a plaque build-up the causes the dementia and unlike tooth plaque this isn't dietary based. You'll either develop it or you won't but through regular eye examinations it can be picked up early.  Alzheimer's is hereditary, those who have a parent, brother, sister or child with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease.  The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness.  When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors, or both, may play a role.

But many believe that with the use of cleverly devised Activities and better Nutrition we can in fact slow down the process, even when it has already started to take hold.  We can trigger memories using memory triggering senses – such as the ears for music to trigger memories.

My quest to find out more about Alzheimer's, led me to find Dr Michael Weiner of UCSF.  He is conducting the largest neuro-imaging initiative to date, where the brains of over 1500 people are being scanned for, so far, the past 15 years.  A surprising finding is, if you take a normal person in their 70's, you find a third have a brain full of amyloid plaque, meaning they have the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease, even though they are completely asymptomatic.  This is proof the size and impact of Alzheimer's will only continue to get greater.

Dr Michael Weiner has produced articles on this matter.  Scholars and Dr's all agree that stimulus in dementia patients has proven to reduce anxieties and depression but also to reduce aggressive behaviour.  

However, the activities expected today mimic those of institutions gone by, which we are trying to moving away from.  What we need, now that we understand the importance, is to create and focus on activities which have a better chance of reducing the impact of the disease.

When I discussed this article with my own father, he stated that not being able to enjoy a pint when he wanted to would be the turning point for him.  When he would realise that someone else now has control over his life.

On this note, I am creating a detailed list of Activities which will be free to download for everyone – so please if you have an idea or activity we can include please contact the office so that we can include it for future care givers.  Activities that be as simplistic as a memory book or a regular trip to the pub.
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