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social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2019

Search results for dementia

As soon as you are diagnosed with dementia, it is important to start to use techniques of “living smart with dementia.”

  • Time Frame: reorient yourself to the ways things are now, not what they used to be.
  • Medications: work with your doctor on drugs that can help with your symptoms and follow your doctors’ instructions.
  • Anxiety: ask your doctor for help.
  • Gratitude: Appreciate and acknowledge all those who help you.
  • Communicate: Use appropriate methods for your current cognitive strengths not necessarily the way you have done it in the past.
  • Apathy: Take steps to actively reorient yourself when you just don’t feel like doing anything.
  • Think Small: Your goal is to live well and make as few problems for others as possible. You are not going to rebuild your career or Rome. Identify what you can do and work hard to do.

The mind map below shows a synthesis of these ideas. Click on the image to expand it.

Over the weekend I did something I have not done since I retired from my job because of dementia in 2011.

I flew a round trip on airplanes including two legs in each direction and four hour connection times both outbound and inbound at the Philadelphia airport.

I flew unaccompanied.

It was a lot more difficult than when I travel with family and almost a night-and-day experience in relationship to the 20 years I flew between 100,000 and 150,000 miles each year without leaving the lower 48 states of the USA.

But I did it.

Should you be inclined to do what I did and fly unaccompanied, I have some very important pieces of advice.

  1. You cannot even try flying alone without the support and permission of your family and caregivers. Honor their wishes and judgments.
  2. You should talk to your doctor and take seriously their advice and concerns about flying. If your doctor says you cannot do it, recruit someone to go with you. Or don’t go.
  3. Do not even go on the plane alone without a LOT of preparation. This is critical.
  4. The most important thing you can take if you travel alone is a smartphone packed with lots of travel apps, and web clippings of important information like your air travel documents, key contact lists, an full itinerary, possibly a bank card integrated into your smartphone, and pictures of important information like your ID card, pill warnings, where you are going, who you are going to see, and much more. You cannot ever have too much information on a smartphone. But do make sure you can find it quickly when you need it! Note: I believe that you cannot leave your ID at home. Security checks require a physical ID card.
  5. As a rough estimate, I think that probably less than 5-10% of all people with EARLY STAGE dementia should be traveling unaccompanied. Forget traveling alone if you are in one of the advanced stages of dementia.

Here is a small mind map I made up while sitting in the Philadelphia airport a couple of days ago.

Click the image to increase the size of the mind map.

 

 

The most difficult part of the trip by myself was to get through security screening. Pray for a world where terrorism is no longer a problem.

CLICK HERE to open another window showing all of the posts to date (more than 20 are expected) in this series on The Great Visual Thinking Machine.

The Great Visual Thinking Machine is a set of visual thinking procedures that help one collect new information (especially VISUAL information), remember and recall information, and plan, schedule, and make comparative judgments.

97% of all the topics discussed within 813 posts in this blog (Hubaisms.com) since 2012 have used my evolving vision of The Great Visual Thinking Machine™ or TGVTM™.

I developed this model between 2012 and now (early 2019). During that time I have had dementia.  Think about that. Now, think about that again. None of my blog posts has been written with anyone else, edited by anyone else, or “approved” by anyone else. The key part of the blog posts — the complicated mind maps and other visual material were similarly developed by me with no directions, information, or revisions by others.

Using methods embedded as parts of The Great Visual Thinking Machine” did not keep my brain from continuing to degenerate in the frontal and temporal lobes. This is clearly demonstrated in my most recent MRI and PET scans I reviewed with my primary neurologist last week. I personally NEVER expected that using methods of thinking that were visually-oriented would either heal my brain or slow its overall physical degeneration.

But, I did hope that maybe an enhanced ability to think in an effective and accurate way using would slow the decline of my quality of life. Could I do that? I hoped for such an outcome as a result of learning and using new methods of visual thinking and I think that I achieved it FOR ME. Would this work for you? I don’t know. There have been no gold standard random assignment clinical trials. In fact, while much research needs to be done, this blog illustrates over six years that I was able to retain significant parts of my overall cognitive processing levels.

The Great Visual Thinking Machine includes cognitive and behavioral skill building, not medical, psychological, or other forms of professional treatment or therapy. Collectively the methods are super-charged ways for taking notes and comparing options The methods include encoding and decoding information in visual ways so as improve memory. These techniques can super-charge virtually all aspects of cognitive processing.

One reason I decided to make posts to the blog every few days was that I wanted to document my level of using my brain and new technologies over a period of years. I have done so and you can easily compare the results from 2012 through the present online here.

The diagram below is a depiction of The Great Visual Thinking Machine. It is written in the way that I use visual thinking methods to outline my thoughts and communicate them to others. The program used here is iMindMap, the premier way of making mind maps on computers. It is also the core of the major set of different visual thinking techniques that I use, typically in various combinations.

Click on the image to expand it.

The next mind map shows the potential users of The Great Visual Thinking Machine.

This post is the start of a series that explain how to use components of The Great Visual Thinking Machine. I expect to make a new post in this series every 1-2 days.

#TGVTM #TheGreatVisualThinkingMachine

#MindMap #VisualThinking #MindModel

tgvtm™

I have been writing a lot on this blog about apathy during the past months. It has been an increasing annoyance and in some ways debilitating symptom. Where is the off switch? I’ve been looking for it for a long time. I cannot find a personal way within my control to turn apathy on and off, even though I do cycle through periods of greater and less apathy all week, often during the same day.

Help.

A mind map shown below discusses my dilemma. Click on the image to expand it.

my brain with dementia apathy condition

 

Click here for other posts on apathy.

It’s the elephant in the room.

elephant small

Now that’s a cryptic title for a blog post, isn’t it?

When you move into later stages in dementia, there are some additional challenges to deal with.

  • Apathy (A) like you have never felt apathy before.
  • Anxiety Avoidance (A+A) where the primary experience is often trying to stay away from events, people, and situations that cause you anxiety, to a large part because the experience of anxiety gets harder and harder to cope with.
  • The Bursting Bubble (B+B) phenomenon wherein strategies you have used successfully in earlier stages of dementia to maintain quality of life no longer work so well.
  • Confusion (C) as a daily part of everything you do increases 10-fold.
  • Communication (C) becomes less automatic, more idiosyncratic to you, much harder because words disappear on the way in and on the way out, slower, ambiguous, more frustrating to you and those you are communicating with, and possibly without any memory of things you said 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, or last Thanksgiving.
  • A(A+A)(B+B)CC

Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me unless you take active (and hard) steps to maintain quality of life under different conditions you have encountered before.

The following mind map shows the problems involved with moving into later stages of dementia and some solutions that might work for you. Skills and techniques you learned at early and middle stages of dementia will be helpful but not sufficient to fully deal with the continuing challenges of maintaining quality of life.

Can it be done? Yes. Is it easy without a plan? No. Does a plan help? Yes.

Here are some explanations of what might be happening to you (or an individual under your care) as dementia progresses. Click on the image to expand it.

A few solutions for each problem are also suggested. Note that these are general suggestions and NOT medical or psychological advice. For more help, see your healthcare provider(s).

The A(A+A)(B+B)CCs of Later Stages in Dementia

 

 

Want your dementia care and final life experiences to be good ones? Take a series of “final stands” where you continue to express what you want. Your friends, family members, caregivers, and healthcare providers cannot read your mind. Try to communicate with them through written words, conversations, or visual diagrams.

Before dementia becomes too advanced you need to make some decisions about how you wish to be treated as your cognitive, emotional, and social skills get worse. And you need to make sure that those who care for you, help you, and are important parts of your life know what you want.

I’ve shown a few topics you might want to consider along with your family, friends, caregivers, and healthcare providers in the mind model (map) below.

Click on the image to expand it.

Do your homework and express what you hope to experience and achieve in the final stages of your dementia. Even as dementia causes increasing problems, you can still enjoy life and lead one of high quality.

Plan, enjoy, communicate, live a high quality of end-of-life experiences, and work to achieve your goals with others. Stay as independent as you can, be nice, cooperate, negotiate, and plan.

 

by George J Huba PhD (Psychology)

Have dementia? It makes no sense to obsessively ruminate about what you have lost.

It makes a lot of sense to focus on now and then try to maximize your quality of life.

Focus not on what you lost but rather on what you have left and how to maximize how you can have the best quality of life possible. That’s how a deal with cognitive decline.

As dementia has progressed for me, apathy has become a bigger concern as the disease progresses.

Something needs to be done now? Chill dude.

Ask someone else to do something to help you? Happens more and more each day.

Just don’t care about deadlines? Yup.

You need to try to deal with apathy early and later in the course of dementia.

Apathy is a trap.

If you become apathetic, you anger your family and friends and others who can help you.

If you become apathetic, you can miss many important and enjoyable parts of life.

If you become apathetic, you can feel helpless and hopeless.

If you become apathetic, your remaining life can be depressing and limited.

If you become apathetic, your quality of life and that of your family and friends can be adversely affected.

Click the mind map below to expand its size.

dementia? now deal with ...

by George J Huba PhD (Psychologist)

Dementia is not just MEMORY LOSS. In fact, certain manifestations of dementia do not involve significant memory loss.

Virtually all forms of dementia include significant psychiatric symptoms. I certainly experience them.

If your doctor is not prescribing psychiatric medications for depression, anxiety, and anger ask why not.

If psychiatric medications you have been prescribed are not working, ask your doctor, why and if it might be useful to consult with a psychiatric medicine specialist, especially one for those with the brain changes of someone with dementia.

A mind map of some of the issues. Click the image to expand it.

Medications for Anger and Depression During Dementia

by George J Huba PhD (Psychology)

This weekend the American Psychological Association is meeting in San Francisco. While certainly not exclusively so, the meeting tends to be dedicated to the presentation of fairly trivial and limited scope, poorly designed research studies.

Psychology should be embarrassed that the focus of the meeting is not developing new and better ways of addressing psychological problems. For instance, I have dementia. So do many millions of people worldwide. At this psychological meeting, there is little focus on actually improving the lives of persons with dementia. The same is true for many other psychological disorders.

How has psychology failed persons with dementia? The following mind map presents my assessment of the situation.

Why does psychology fail persons with dementia? I believe it is because the field wants to pretend it is a science of the rigor of biology and physics, rather than focusing on becoming an evidence-based way of developing better ways of patient assessment, screening, treatment, and communication. What a waste. And remember that I am a person with degenerative cognitive and behavioral disease and I get it. Shame on psychology.

Click the image to expand it.

By George J Huba PhD (Psychology)

Several times over the past six years, I have written similar posts suggesting strategies for minimizing the symptoms of dementia.

This is my current scorecard and suggestions about how to deal with the symptoms of the disease.

This is a totally new effort (I did not go back and look at the prior posts on this topic). If you want to know what I felt about my own dementia at various times since 2012, you can go back and look at my prior posts. To do so, on the left of any of my blog pages you can click on the month and year and see all of the posts from that time period. Alternately, in the search box, you can type in some keywords and see a chronologically-ordered list of my posts on that topic.

Here is a mind map of some strategies for minimizing the symptoms and effects of your dementia (or that of a person with dementia under your care).

Click on the image to expand it.

 

 

#dementia #MindMap @DrHubaEvaluator #GeorgeHuba

 

 

by George J Huba PhD (Psychology)

Dementia is a time that gets extremely complicated for a person with dementia and their spouse, family, friends, new social acquaintances, healthcare providers, and caregivers.

Probably the biggest issue is that those who interact with the person with dementia expect the PWD to communicate in a way that is diminished but still like the way a typical person without dementia communicates just now at a lower level.

It is difficult to communicate with a person with dementia because their own experience of communications is now shaped by the brain changes and other symptoms of dementia. What about your Mom who no longer smiles when you say something she has always liked or when you bring her the pistachio ice cream she has always loved? Ever consider the possibility that she thinks she is smiling but has no control over nonverbal communication such as her smile. Brain damage of various types can cause the loss of nonverbal communication abilities or control of facial muscles.

Why does your friend always get overwhelmed and say something stupid when there are lots of other people around? Perhaps they can’t focus on what you are saying because there is so much noise and motion from distracting sources?

Ever wonder why your friend with dementia comes back with an answer to a question five minutes after you asked the question? Brain changes and damage during dementia may make it hard to retrieve information or think and a loss of a sense of time may mean your friend keeps working on answering the question long after the conversation has moved on.

In dementia, a daydream may be as vivid as something in the real world, and just as distracting. In dementia, you can’t deal with too much information because it distracts you and can’t “fill in the blank spaces” if you receive too little because your “executive functioning” has been destroyed. You tend to get anxious during a conversation not only from unpleasant topics but also from worrying so much about missing a word or forgetting a name or misinterpreting a suggestion as hostile when it was just a normal joke.

The physical and psychological consequences of dementia combine to make it seem that a person with dementia is speaking a different language. They are.

And yes, those 20 or more pills the person with dementia may take daily can affect the ability to speak clearly, pay attention, be sleepy, look like they are bored when they are not, or become even more anxious.

Additional thoughts are arranged on the mind map below.

Click on the image to expand it.

Always try to remember that the person with dementia is often not disinterested or misunderstanding you or too tired to think or extremely distracted in what you think is a peaceful environment.

And if you are a person with dementia, remember that your friend is not trying to mislead you or express hostility and disapproval. They are not trying to trick you or harm you or pick a fight. You might not remember a conversation your caregiver says you had 10 minutes ago, so get over it and trust the other person. Nobody is criticizing you as a person because you can no longer tie your shoelaces or your necktie.

All parties in a conversation with a person who has dementia need to realize that the “rules” for the social encounter have changed because of the disease. Both persons with dementia and their families and friends and caregivers need to realize that is just as hard for all parties to figure out this new “language of dementia.” But it can be done and when mastered can liberate everyone to some degree.

Learn to laugh and smile and enjoy the company of each other again. The positive emotions are still there but they may have to be expressed in different ways. Learn how to express oneself when one or more parties has dementia. It’s worth the time. For everyone.

 

what makes conversation difficult for a person with dementia

 

#mindmap #mindmapping #dementia #Alzheimers @DrHubaEvaluator

By George J Huba PhD (Psychology)

After working hard (or some would say, “struggling) to continue having a good life with dementia, many (including me) find they must eventually come to the final obstacle of almost debilitating apathy and hurdle over it. It is very hard to commit the energy and time to fight back against the apathy which naturally results from knowing you will have to keep working so hard at fighting back for the rest of your life.

Take a deep breath. You can do it and then do it again tomorrow. Do remember that all of us who deal with dementia face the same general set of obstacles every day. And maintaining a “normal” or typical lifestyle is well worth it.

A mind map showing the major issues. Click on the image to expand its size.

Dementia Hurdle

Having dementia is, OBVIOUSLY, not a lot of fun. You feel bad mentally and physically and tired after just a little physical or mental activity. A couple of weeks ago when I had a six-hour professional meeting with two other people I went home and immediately went to sleep for 14 hours.

When you have dementia, it takes a lot of energy to just get through a day and figure out what you can do and how to do it. I have trouble with buttons so I find that I am leaving my preferred “office” shirts buttoned and just pull them over my head. I go to the trouble because wearing a dress shirt during the day — albeit without a tie and with the sleeves rolled up — makes me feel better.

Social interactions are among the most difficult things I have to deal with during the day. They are also the most upsetting to other people because they can see my vulnerabilities at the same time I may annoy the heck out of them.

So, one thing I try to do is to follow the 10 courses of action listed in the mind map below. I have increasing dementia after all so no matter how hard I try I doubt I get more than 80% of these things right. But by trying hard, my efforts are appreciated and reinforced by those family members, service providers, and others who have to deal with me when I am at my most stressed and tired and grouchy. And the fact I am trying lowers their stress.

Just because you have dementia, you are not excused from trying or being nice or appreciating others.

Click on the image below to increase its size.

 

Being the Best You Can Be with Dementia

The #1 thing that I have learned over almost a decade of living with dementia is that thinking in pictures (images, diagrams, doodles, etc.) is much more effective than using words alone. Hedge your bet. Use pictures that associate with words rather than just words. After all, in many types of dementia, you lose your words at the end while the pictures may escape loss.

Try it. You will probably like it. Creating visualizations of important events, ideas, feelings, and other information can be FUN.

I’ve been using visual thinking methods for the past 10 years. They work (for me).

#13) The diagram below is a sketchnote, a new method for recording information developed by Mike Rohde about 10 years ago.

In my personal experience (using it to deal with my dementia) this works far better than a “regular To Do List” for helping me remember and stay motivated.

It would take you 10 minutes to try this yourself whether or not you have cognitive impairment.

[Go buy some erasable markers.]

12thingsIlearnedabiytdenebtua

A caregiver looking at a person with (advanced) dementia can easily conclude that it is impossible to motivate them to do tasks that are “easy” (washing dishes, taking the garbage to the recycling bin, calling and making their own doctor appointment, or cleaning out the garage).

Motivation from the standpoint of the person with dementia such as myself is a much more complicated phenomenon. If you don’t have dementia you may not see it the way I do. Most people who have dementia will not articulate these issues in the way that I do (I have had 30+ years as a psychologist and this medical-psychological language is natural to me). I am convinced, however, that most people with dementia feel some of the things that I describe below. I not that I object to cleaning the garage but rather that in order to clean the garage I have to overcome dozens of fears and anxieties and find different ways to do simple things because I can no longer remember the order of the steps needed to do what seem to be simple tasks.

Please click on the mind map to expand its size.

LOSS OF MOTIVATION DURING DEMENTIA SOME REASONS WHY

Modern terminology for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) has been expanding. Now, FTD is included within a larger group of neurodegenerative conditions including Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD), FTD with Parkinsonism, and FTD with Atrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The combined set of diseases including FTD behavioral variant and PPA is referred to as Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (or Dementia).

At the present time, a variety of factors (including the research literature, the interests of advocacy groups for individual diseases, and prior medical practices) continue to the nomenclature and typology of these diseases inconsistent in different places.

Types of Frontotemporal Lobar DiseaseDementia

I have a series of mind maps that address the ways that I — as a person with dementia — should self-reflect on my own functioning and that I create or shape among others.

Most importantly, I try to ask myself what I learned for tomorrow. And then — by putting it in a mind map — remember what I hope to achieve. If I don’t map it, I probably won’t remember it Or gain from my insights.

Dementia is strange like that. It doesn’t necessarily keep you from having deep insights into issues… it just prevents you from remembering what they were if you don’t write them down. I’d contend that using a visual thinking method like mind mapping is the best way to “write them down.”

Did You Create Problems Today

For every case of dementia, mind maps can potentially be used to improve the quality of life of the patient, caregiver, and family.  Many people in the later stages of dementia are confused at times, frequently unresponsive, have minimal access to their memory, and can be aggressive and otherwise difficult to deal with. In spite of this, the care of almost every dementia patient, even one at a very late stage dementia, can be improved by mind maps and other visual thinking tools and better care will almost always produce a better quality of life.

Mind maps and other visual thinking methods are better ways to capture, store, manipulate, share, and understand an individual case. Image that. A method that costs pennies per use can improve the efficacy of $200 doctor visits, $20 pills, $3000 emergency room visits, $150 of home healthcare, and $1000 consultations because at the end of all the fancy stuff, mind mapping is an intuitive, easily understood method of communicating among and coordinating among the many parties that collectively are the care system for an individual person with dementia. No, simple mind maps will not substitute for medical treatments, but they can make the individual healthcare system developed for a person with dementia more efficient and help cut service redundancies and unneeded tests and treatments resulting from poor patient-doctor-family communications.

Among other ways, mind mapping and other visual thinking methods can be used even with patients with advanced stages of dementia. While people in advanced stages might be limited in their ability to draw maps, they may be still quite skilled in reading them and picking up on associations. Whether or not patients with dementia can draw (or even read) mind maps at the end, caregivers, doctors, nurses, families, and others may use these visual methods of communication to easily share information among themselves. If the patient has created a “pre-dementia” set of diagrams for her or his life experiences, there will be a useful baseline for healthcare providers to better understand the individual case.

Good communication. Good coordination. Knowing the issues. Applying the best thoughts of all people in the care team (including the family, caregivers, and patient). Using the best treatment methods useful for the individual with dementia. And all because mind maps (compelling visual methods of producing insights into complex issues in a simple way) make communications clearer and more reliable, allow a patient to take part in her or his own treatment, and do so at a low-cost that makes the care team more effective and the patient and family happy about the quality care the patient is receiving.

Sounds almost too good to be true. It isn’t.

Click on the mind model (mind map) shown below to expand its size.

I know that a simple version of the outlined model has worked super well for my (dementia) care. It could also work super well for you or a person with dementia for whom you provide care.

 

If you have not read the Introduction to this series of posts, it is important that you read it before this post. Click here for the Part 00 Introduction. This post is part of a series of more than a dozen posts.

I worked on understanding health and social service programs, especially for the disabled, poor, disenfranchised, and traditionally underserved as a program evaluator for about 25 years. I was very good at it and worked with hundreds of programs spread over most US states.

In writing about my activities to achieve stability in my dementia and maximize my quality of life, I am going to employ the tools of program evaluation to describe what I was trying to achieve, what I did to achieve my goals, why I did various activities, and which parts of my interventions seemed to help me the most. No, not in this post but in a series of more than a dozen posts.

In this post I will start by describing the activities I designed for myself and did throughout my period of diagnosed dementia over six years of living with the disease. In subsequent posts, especially Posts 02 and 03, I will discuss the outcomes of my activities. After that, I will address some of my activities — and especially those that “worked” extremely well for me — and describe them in depth, show how other individuals might use these methods, and how dementia caregiver and healthcare systems might be built around them.


The image below is a mind map. Should you not be familiar with how a mind map is drawn and read, please search this website for posts on mind mapping using the search box. Or, go to the home page by clicking here and look at the list of pre-defined searches.

A very simple set of rules for reading a mind map is as follows.

  1. Start at the center of the diagram. Each of the topics (ideas or major branches) that come out of the center represents an issue. Important information about the main issues is given as a series of branches. The organization is in an outline or tree where large branches divide into smaller branches and smaller branches divide into even smaller branches.
  2. Think of the map as a clock face and start at the 1 o’clock position (upper right corner). Read outward from the center along the branches and sub-branches to see how ideas and information about the topics can be arranged in a hierarchical or tree structure. [If you could go up a huge fire truck ladder and look straight down, you would see a structure of tree branches that looks like a mind map. When we study or read a mind map, we are looking at a whole tree — set of information — and then seeing how small and more specific information spreads from the trunk.]
  3. Go around the map in a counter-clockwise manner (to 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc.), following the branches down to their branches and their branches and finally to twigs. Remember that we are looking down at a whole idea [or tree] and its branches and their branches in order to understand how the information represented on these branches goes together and what the most important information is.
  4. The mind map is thus a picture of major ideas followed by its major subdivisions or branches and sub-branches. The “big ideas” are attached directly to the central issue.
  5. A mind map is a way of showing in an image how a set of data pieces or ideas go together.
  6. The pictures, color coding, and fonts are used to designate what is the most important information in the mind map. When you are trying to remember or organize or determine priorities, the pictures, color coding, and size of the fonts can help you store information in “visual” parts of the brain and then retrieve it by thinking about pictures, the color coding, or size-importance of the information.

Click on the mind map to expand its size and zoom to various portions of the map.

 

As you can see, I tested app after app after app on my Mac and iPhone to see which could help me. I read all about how to mindmap and draw sketchnotes and I practiced and practiced. I learned to read “dog” and taught my Newfie to understand “people.” I doodled, watched the news, built a highly-rated social media following of more than 140,000 individuals interested in healthcare, dementia, visual thinking, and 100s of other topics from around the world. I went to concerts, watched movies, and cheered for the two local universities with huge sports programs. I engaged some new parts of my brain. I thought in pictures.

  • I HAD FUN.
  • I LEARNED MANY NEW THINGS THAT STRETCHED MY BRAIN INTO NEW CHANNELS.
  • I BUILT COGNITIVE RESERVE.
  • I THINK I PROVIDED NEW INFORMATION TO PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA AND COGNITIVE DECLINE, CAREGIVERS, HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS, AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT THIS.
  • I HAD FUN.

Stay tuned, the interesting stuff starts next.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with neurodegenerative brain disease with the initial diagnosis being supranuclear palsy which was later amended to the highly related frontotemporal dementia, behavioral type. Some believe that PSP and FTD are variants of the same disease.

I started to examine Mac and iPhone/iPad apps that might be useful early in 2010. After I retired in 2011 I started to use a number of the apps for such things as calendars, task lists, alarms, reminders, and other business-like functions. The business-like apps failed to motivate me to use them continuously nor could they address executive functioning problems that were at the core of my disease. As early as late 2011 I had concluded that mind maps and other visual thinking methods could be very helpful.

As I read about every mind map book around by dozens of authors and bloggers, including the majority of those written by Tony Buzan who makes the claim he is the “inventor” of mind mapping (it is a silly claim no matter who makes it), I rapidly discovered that virtually all visual thinking work focuses on lucrative management consulting that few who use it have strong background in substantive areas like medicine, healthcare, psychology, and related disciplines. What little work exists in mind mapping and other visual techniques within the health and medicine areas indicates a total lack of understanding of visual thinking and is generally painful to read.

I wasn’t scared off by the fact that there was no clear guide to what a person with cognitive impairment and later dementia could do with visual thinking procedures and computer apps to try to improve the ability to cope with dementia. I had, after all, spent 35 years of a successful career as a (nonclinical) psychologist and much of my career had focused on developing new applications of psychological knowledge to addressing medical, psychological and social disorders. And much of the 35 years were spent studying the service care system for those who were least connected with society and traditional healthcare.

I am writing a series of posts (currently more than a dozen) evaluating my experiences during the last six years with a progressive brain disease. Each will focus on a specific test of methods and outcomes I think were achieved.

My studies are one-subject research (often called N=1). I will present results that I believe can be inferred from specific indicators. However, what I discuss is DERIVED FROM MY EXPERIENCE AND MY INTERPRETATIONS OF THE OUTCOMES OF WHAT I DID. I do not claim that any of what I write about is applicable to all people or that what I did should be considered to prove anything as opposed to simply observing it in myself validly or not. And, I see no evidence that the outcomes from what I did have done suggest I found anything to treat or cure or slow the progression of dementia: I never expected them to do so. What I do believe that I have demonstrated for myself is that these methods have helped me maintain a much higher quality of life. Not more days in my life, but many more good days while having dementia. I feel blessed to have received those extra good days.

Most of my “writing” is in pictures. That’s the point of visual thinking.

The following mind map is a general introduction to my work over the past six years. I call it Part 00. Starting with Part 01, I am going to start to present both observations and objective indicators of what happened for me.


Should you not be familiar with how a mind map is drawn and read, please search this website for posts on mind mapping using the search box. Or, go to the home page by clicking here and look at the list of pre-defined searches.

A very simple set of rules for reading a mind map is as follows.

  1. Start at the center of the diagram. Each of the topics (ideas or major branches) that come out of the center represents an issue. Important information about the main issues is given as a series of branches. The organization is in an outline or tree where large branches divide into smaller branches and smaller branches divide into even smaller branches.
  2. Think of the map as a clock face and start at the 1 o’clock position (upper right corner). Read outward from the center along the branches and sub-branches to see how ideas and information about the topics can be arranged in a hierarchical or tree structure. [If you could go up a huge fire truck ladder and look straight down, you would see a structure of tree branches that looks like a mind map. When we study or read a mind map, we are looking at a whole tree — set of information — and then seeing how small and more specific information spreads from the trunk.]
  3. Go around the map in a counter-clockwise manner (to 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc.), following the branches down to their branches and their branches and finally to twigs. Remember that we are looking down at a whole idea [or tree] and its branches and their branches in order to understand how the information represented on these branches goes together and what the most important information is.
  4. The mind map is thus a picture of major ideas followed by its major subdivisions or branches and sub-branches. The “big ideas” are attached directly to the central issue.
  5. A mind map is a way of showing in an image how a set of data pieces or ideas go together.
  6. The pictures, color coding, and fonts are used to designate what is the most important information in the mind map. When you are trying to remember or organize or determine priorities, the pictures, color coding, and size of the fonts can help you store information in “visual” parts of the brain and then retrieve it by thinking about pictures, the color coding, or size-importance of the information.

Click on the mind map below to expand it and let’s start the process of understanding of what visual thinking methods help me to do.