I have argued for several years, especially in my book “Mind Mapping, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia,” that communication among persons with dementia, their caregivers, and healthcare providers can be greatly improved by using visual thinking methods.
Mind maps are probably easier to understand for many persons with dementia than the traditional forms, small font information sheets, lists of to-do items, pharmaceutical labels, and guidelines. Mind maps can be used for visual journals and diaries that can still be understood at later stages of the disorder.
To use these methods effectively, it is imperative that healthcare providers and caregivers be trained in effective mind mapping methods. While many medical students are shown how to mind map, the techniques used are actually very ineffective ways of visual outlining that employ few, if any, of the real strengths of the method. These outline maps are clearly not appropriate for persons with dementia. Hence caregivers and healthcare providers need to be trained in “real” mind mapping methods AND how to communicate with these methods with persons with dementia.
Most of the trainings and mind mapping books and web sites are oriented to business users, especially at the management level. I have yet to find training sessions especially geared to both the mind mapping and patient care and management issues implicit in healthcare and caregiving. So how should we train healthcare professionals and caregivers to use mind maps effectively for the benefit of the person with dementia? The following mind map is a set of suggestions for how to train such individuals effectively. The trainings are designed to produce mind mapping experience specifically focused on patient care and management of those with dementia.
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