Info

social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2017

Search results for dementia

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 201o. 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.

In case you were wondering which topics might be selected for mind maps to help patients and their caregivers with cognitive disabilities or dementia …

Click the image to expand it.


And, yes you are correct, this is the same diagram as in the prior post with just the title changed from sketchnotes to mind maps.

I think that is the exact point I am trying to make.

Use what works.

 

I have come to the conclusion that the process of mind mapping forces a structure onto the brain that can help it deal with some of the problems of dementia. Mind mapping — at least for me — seems to force a structure for attempting organized thought that engages different (undamaged?) parts of the brain. I have no proof: there have been no brain wave studies of individuals while they are using visual thinking methods. My experience of five years has led me to believe that is why my mind mapping works. I await some formal studies which will reassure others if not me.

Click the image to expand it.

I often post about a trio of visual thinking methods that I use (I believe successfully) to deal with my own dementia.

Yes, this is one more post on the “trio topic.” This differs from the earlier posts in that it tries to use a commonsense and nontechnical language to explain how and why these methods seem to work.

Click the mind map to expand it.

Click here for my partner post on merging mind maps and sketchnotes. The post opens in a new window.

Buzan-style mind models are great (for me) in dealing with the cognitive issues of my dementia. Rohde-style sketchnotes are great (for me) in dealing with the cognitive issues of my dementia.

Q: What happens when we combine the strengths of both approaches? A: A little bit of magic.

This diagram was created in the superb program iMindMap Ver 10.

Click the image to expand it.

 

Mind Map in the Style of a Rohde Sketchnote

 

 

Mike Rohde’s seminal work on #sketchnotes is a brilliant contribution to the knowledge base on communicating and using visual thinking methods.

I have recently done much work on using mind map methods to assist those with typical aging, dementia, and cognitive planning for their futures which may include cognitive decline with age or after brain trauma.

Mike #Rohde and his disciples say to hand sketch when using his visual thinking model. I am moderately good at simple sketchnoting. See here for early posts on hand-drawn sketchnoting (with examples) for those with dementia (by someone — me — who has dementia).

But how might you use a computer program to generate a sketchnote? Here is an example prepared with the superb mind map program iMindMap of my guidelines about how to combine strengths of mind mapping and sketchnoting.

Of course, I prepared this as a computer-assisted sketchnote with iMindMap.

Within my application space of developing visual displays for those with typical aging or dementia or brain trauma or concerns about future cognitive decline as they age, I think the best applications of sketchnoting would be instructions for various methods and issues, historical records, and visual thinking for people who usually acquire new information through written or verbal media (conversations).

Click on the image to expand it.

More information on sketchnotes is found on the Sketchnote Army web site.

The types of visual thinking tools I use to help deal with my own cognitive deficits are mind mapping, sketch noting and doodling. All can be done manually with a pen or pencil and paper. Mind mapping greatly increases its assist by using a program such as my preferred choice iMindMap or alternatives XMIND, MindManager, or dozens of other programs. Sketch noting and doodling are typically done with a pen and paper or a tablet or smartphone and a drawing program.

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

Before reading this post, consider reading my earlier post on the CODER algorithm for mind mapping by clicking HERE.

Click on images to expand them.

The CODER algorithm suggests developing mind maps that explicitly state information in order to …

C – Communicate

O – Organize

D – Decide

E – Explain

R – Report

The CODER algorithm specifically addresses deficits in abilities to communicate, organize, decide, explain, and report which are a significant part of dementia or cognitive impairment. I have been using the technique of mind mapping since 2010 to address issues in my own dementia, and I judge it to be extremely effective. Putting information into a visual thinking environment (VITHEN) so that it can all be seen provides a way to communicate with others, examine context, make decisions, explain ideas and conclusions to others, and report using the mind map itself.

As a note, I consider the iMindMap computer program (currently on Version 10) to be the best way to create and use mind maps or mind model (a term I created for advanced mind maps).

There are many kinds of dementia, but in many types, one huge change is that you lose partially or fully the ability control your facial expression, body posture, and other physical movements that indicate to another person how you feel, how attentive you are, sudden joy, fear, and especially empathy.

Since my diagnosis of FTD (and several years before that), I have heard statements like these from strangers, friends, and family members. Many people think I am angry, disinterested, or not listening to them.

“You never smile.”

“We’re waiting for you not to frown so we can take the selfie.”

“You don’t care what I think, all you do is look at me with a smirk on your face.”

Well, most of the time I am happy and/or neutral although I am sometimes depressed to varying degrees. I am usually interested in what most people are saying. Sometimes I have to break into conversations multiple times to say that I am confused. That confusion is, for me, more likely to indicate that I cannot decode your words because I am losing language skills, not because I was not paying attention to you. I slouch a lot, I often walk looking directly down because I easily trip over over cracks in the pavement and that sometimes leads to falls (I am currently typing using my left thumb on the spacebar because I broke my right thumb in a fall a month ago).

You cannot judge how I am feeling physically or mentally by looking at me unless you are part of my core family and see me very often and sometimes not even then.

That sucks.

Much of how we feel about people is based on their nonverbal gestures and facial expressions. Somebody like me who can barely smile gives people the impression they don’t like what is being said or are annoyed or distracted.

Most people infer negative things from my posture and face and staring that are simply not true.

This is probably a huge factor in how miscommunications often occur among persons with dementia and those they interact with. Even people who interact with me regularly and know my medical problems often misinterpret me.

The following mind model shows some issues in communicating with persons with dementia and possibly misinterpreting what they are thinking and feeling because they look at you with unintended disinterest, never smile, and look distracted. People have often misinterpreted my attempt to smile as smirking.

And if you are a person with dementia, look at yourself in the mirror or in recent photographs and see if you can make some improvements in facial expressions and posture. And if not, when you talking to people, especially friends and family, remind them that you not in complete control of your facial expressions and that sometimes when you think you are smiling or even grinning, the other person just sees a blank face. You can also make a joke out of the situation.

Click on the mind model image below to expand it.

Have a good day.

A phrase you have heard thousands of times (especially if you have lived in California as I did for 30 years). If you have dementia you may groan or the statement may make you angry or you might make a pointed comment back.

Chill, Dudes and Dudettes.

OK, I get it (well actually have gotten it for a number of years since diagnosis). There may not be a 100% good day for you anymore if you have dementia. But how about a perfect (or even good) 20 minutes having coffee with a friend or an hour solving a puzzle with a grandchild or 100 minutes watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2 complete with a refillable tub of popcorn. Yup, these periods of a good day may be followed by a period of frustration or not being able to remember something or difficulty doing a task of daily living.

Use the Force, Luke.

Good moments can be great moments if you let them be. They may last only for few minutes or an afternoon, but given that your brain is “sick” they are a huge gift and blessing. Focus on what is happening to you now, try to not let the bad upset you unduly, and try to enjoy every moment for every second possible.

You may master the Force. You may feel better. Is there a better use of your time?

Focus on what is, not what was.

Click the image of the mind model (mind map) to expand it.

When I try to more than I can, I often get myself into trouble. You should try to do as much as you can but never at the expense of your family, caregivers, friends, and healthcare providers. Elite athletes call this “staying within yourself” while I call it plain common sense. At any rate, your experience of dementia can be made much better by staying within your CURRENT limits, not those of prior times before you started cognitive decline.

Click the image to expand it.

Nothing in this blog post is intended as medical or psychological advice. Should you wish to understand the issues in cognitive training as they pertain to you, consult with your doctor, psychologist, or another licensed healthcare provider. I am neither suggesting that you use cognitive (brain) training or alternate methods of thinking although I have made such a choice for myself. The intent of this post is that you understand the issues with these methods should you be making a choice. 

In the past three decades, methods of cognitive training have been developed by many companies. Services are offered by online companies, individual healthcare professionals, and some psychological testing companies.

The developers-owners of cognitive training methods make many claims about how these methods can improve or maintain GENERAL cognitive (brain) functioning for typical adults, those starting cognitive decline, and those entering the faster decline of dementia.

In most cases, costs associated with receiving cognitive training — especially under the supervision of a licensed professional — can be quite high.

As the term is used, cognitive training consists of repeatedly taking cognitive tests developed usually in psychology research studies and typically presented on a computer. Look at a complex picture flashed on the screen rapidly and say where a selected object (thing, person) was shown on the screen. Look for sequences of numbers and letters. Ignore distracting stimuli when looking at the computer screen. In many cases, these tests look like “old time” computer games like Tetris.

These cognitive training procedures are supposed to make you better at thinking by training your brain in certain types of ways that then improve the ability to do a very general and large set of tasks in attention, judgment, planning, and other cognitive processes. It is assumed that learning to perform well ON THESE SPECIFIC TASKS will help you think better in a general way. Unfortunately, it appears after decades of studying cognitive training, it is found that the training on a test will help you get somewhat (and it is a small somewhat) better at taking THAT TEST ONLY and not in similar cognitive tasks more related to day-to-day activities. Yes, you might get better at identifying flashing letters when they appear on the screen, but there is little, if any, replicable evidence that becoming good at the test generalizes into being good at exercising attention in real world situations.

Just what you always think when you think about psychology. Psychologists study “dumb” tasks that look little like real world situations and then claim that getting good at those tasks will change your life. You usually laughed when you read this stuff in news outlet stories. Nonetheless, cognitive training continues to sell and expand and advertise. Money can be made selling cognitive training to individuals concerned with their current and future ability to think well and remember and maintain independence. Many claims are made that the methods work and the glossy, high-priced advertising is convincing, but the statistics are not. And yes, the companies that sell cognitive testing products claim that the training works if THEY conduct the experiments and evaluate their own products. However, ongoing INDEPENDENT RESEARCH suggests this is NOT the case.

Did you really expect the ethics of cognitive training companies to exceed those of pharmaceutical companies? The false claims to be less? Big money, big pressure to prove that these things work.

Independent psychologists who evaluate the effectiveness of programs and assertions of others do not find much if any, effect of cognitive training on improving general cognitive functioning, thinking, and performance in real-life situations faced by aging adults.

The most important INDEPENDENT EVALUATION appears in a journal of the Association for Psychological Science of which I am a Fellow. APS is one of the two major psychological associations in the USA and designation as a Fellow comes only after a thorough peer evaluation of competence.

Click here to see a short summary of the research that examines all of the research over several decades on cognitive training. The full report is 83 pages. I still understand most of the mumbo-jumbo in the full report. You will have to pay to purchase the full report if you are not a member of APS. My judgment is that the summary is very accurate in presenting the results of this research through what is called a meta-analysis and I doubt that most people need read more than the 1-page summary.

OK then, so cognitive training probably will not turn out to be the big fix for what ails your thinking as you age or you have a neurodegenerative (neurological) disease. Maybe improvements will be made in future decades but right now the effects appear to be tiny at best.

What’s the alternative?

I have argued for a number years that learning alternate ways of thinking and expanding the types of information your brain can effectively process can be very useful throughout your life. While learning such strategies in childhood is best, you can keep learning new ways to think up until the day you die and expect to get some significant return for your work.

What kinds of activities have been shown to increase brain function? Learning additional languages, studying a musical instrument, learning math, creating art or stories, and many others to which we all have access, typically with a minimum expense. These are real-world activities and many are a lot of fun.

As I progressed through cognitive decline and dementia I have come to believe that learning what are called visual thinking methods — arranging information into pictures that organize major ideas and show the “big picture” — can help you in many ways I have documented throughout this blog (Hubaisms.com). Of course, my findings are based only my own observations of myself and not on formal studies. I note, however, that sometimes observations are better sources of information than research studies, especially from individuals touting products they have invested millions of dollars in developing.

I think that the fuzzy research on cognitive training and the fact that mind mapping is seen as effective at most Fortune 500 corporations, many universities worldwide and by millions of users worldwide at this time suggests that learning alternate WAYS TO THINK probably is much more effective than cognitive training (akin to playing a 1980s computer game).

My suggestion is that if you are concerned that your ability to think will decline or you are already experiencing cognitive decline, you take some time (1-8 hours will help you evaluate this) and determine if visual thinking is useful for you. You can read my work on this blog or work created by Buzan when he popularized mind mapping in business and education or look at many other authors who write on this topic such as Nast. Major summaries and videos are available online. If you would like to see someone with dementia use mind mapping, you can click here to watch a number of short videos of my mind mapping process in a new window.

Alternate visual thinking methods that I find useful are SKETCHNOTES, doodles, cartoons, and graphs.

You can try mind maps, sketchnotes, doodles, cartoons, and graphics with a few pencils or pens you already own and a piece of paper (A4 or 8.5×11 in landscape mode).

Later you can buy computer apps to make the visual thinking look better if you want but you need not do so.

Look at the image below to show the way I think about the information in this post visually using a mind map.

If you want me to understand something or remember it, DRAW ME A PICTURE. I’m a lot smarter than you might think if you just talk to me. Oh, and you need not be artistic at all to use the techniques in visual thinking so don’t use the excuse that you have no “talent.”

Click on the image to expand it.

ObamaCare revised/enhanced?

Trump/RyanCare another draft not submitted to Congress?

Within the extant and mythical healthcare plans, additional dementia care services need to be included. Most are cost-neutral or may actually save money while providing better patient outcomes.

Case Management makes existing healthcare services (doctor visits, medications, emergency care) work better. At a very small cost that should actually SAVE money, case management can provide better total patient care, cut unnecessary emergency room visits, and achieve better medication outcomes. What isn’t there to like?

Dementia Caregivers are most often UNPAID, female family members forced to juggle their own jobs/finances, families, and general lives to care for a loved one. Support is required for Dementia Caregivers in the forms of training, support, advice, and FINANCIAL COMPENSATION for their services. They do the work, they should get paid for their time. An upgraded system of paid family caregivers should make DementiaCare more effective and reduce other costs in the healthcare system to such a degree that it will be cost-neutral. An unnecessary hospital stay or emergency room visit can cost as much as $10,000 — $20,000. A family caregiver could be paid for 500 hours at $20 per hour for $10,000. Train family caregivers, pay them, and you have a cost neutral system. What isn’t there to like?

Mental Health issues often lead to huge patient distress, anxiety, and medical management problems. They can frustrate caregivers and lead to nonadherence to medication recommendations. Therapy and counseling can help patients and caregivers as well as cutting overall medical costs. What isn’t there to like?

Group Adult Daycare can provide needed respite for family caregivers as well as important social and recreational experiences for patients, thus enhancing their lives and to some degree ability to function independently. What isn’t there to like?

The following mind model provides some details. Click the image to expand it.

 

I get in trouble when I make mind maps about Donald Trump. This is a mind map about processing repetitive TV cable news (on CNN and MSNBC and FOX) about the most televised story — Donald Tackles the USA and the World — at this point in late April 2017.

Mr Trump is just completing the first 100 days of his Presidency having accomplished less — according to the fact checkers from numerous news organizations — than any President since the index has been tracked from the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidency in the 1930s. Mr Trump believes he has accomplished more than any president ever studied in his first 100 days.

I am a lover of news stories where the President gets bashed on TV. In the 1970s I watched (and read about) all the hearings focusing on Richard Nixon and Watergate. In the 1980s I watched huge amounts of TV about Reagan and Iran-Contragate. In the 1990s, I watched the hearings about Bill Clinton and the blue dress and impeachment and not inhaling. Nothing of a comparable nature occurred during either Bush presidency or that of Barack Obama. I almost didn’t know what to do with my spare time.

Now, I am watching numerous hours of TV/video on the major USA news channels (including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CBS News online, New York Times, Washington Post, and of course the best news outlet for all news worldwide, BBC). And even ESPN has had a big Trump story about star players declining invitations to the White House to meet POTUS.

My dementia has been progressing at an ever increasing speed in a downward spiral during the past months. I remember (recall) less from current events and “work” and daily tasks. When I can retrieve information I do so very S—L—O—W—L—Y. Judgments are tougher, understanding sequences are harder, and writing down what I think is very slow as the length of my current journal entries (and al of the wurds nat spelled wrongly or too bigly) is increasing grately. Handwriting does not come with A spel chkr.

The current trend in cable TV news on MSNBC and CNN and others is to have one-hour shows where a moderator/commentator discusses all of the “important” news of the day with 2-5 different “self-styled” experts ranting from all political persuasions.

7 hours of liberal rantings about Trump is available on MSNBC and to a lesser degree on CNN; Fox News has 7 hours of conservative rantings about how terrible it is that the liberals are ranting about Trump.

I have repeatedly argued that inexpensive (or even free) visual thinking/mind modeling methods can help a person with dementia “rewrite the operating system” on that storage device we call the brain and think better, albeit in a different way.

As I was making the following mind model (AKA mind map) about Trump’s first 100 days yesterday, I was struck by how rapidly I could create this fairly complex model. I think it shows that the intrinsic interests and REPEATED exposures to structured, summary information can be well captured using visual thinking methods by a person who has lived with dementia for more than half a decade after diagnosis. While I understand that 40% of USA voters will find the content WRONG because it is very liberal rather than very conservative, I do propose the hypothesis that developing a fairly complex, fact-based mind map of current news shows the value of mind mapping for someone with dementia basing this conclusion only on my own experience. And it works no matter what you think about Trump.

I hope that as many conservatives as liberals will use these methods to study the facts of issues and their own conclusions and evaluate the completeness of what they know.

Examine your memories and conclusions in mind models. Political leanings and party do not matter because your mind model is for YOU as much as my mind model is for ME.

Should you find my political points to be in error, just use this as a template about what you would like to say about, for example, Hillary Clinton or a Democrat in Congress.

But remember that models like the one can be developed by a person living with dementia like me.

And most importantly, I hope that we — whether your political views are similar or dissimilar to mine — can come to an agreement that cognitive methods for supporting thinking for those with or at risk for dementia belong in the next version of ObamaCare or TrumpCare along with training, support, and respite services for unpaid dementia caregivers and especially COVERAGE OF COMPREHENSIVE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL AMERICANS.

Click on the image to expand it.

Oh … and let’s make sure that no President of any party ever uses the nuclear option. I hope we can all agree on that.

The title of this post is the #1 question (comment) I receive on Twitter when I make a post about content on this site.

The answer to the question is a guarded yes. Most (in excess of 85%) cover basic issues in caregiving, healthcare, patient management, note-taking, self description, cognitive issues, case management, family management, and resources within the healthcare system. Some is specific to dementia (mind maps on types, treatments, research, experiences of those with dementia).

My expertise, research and personal interests, and personal theories derive from within the context of dementia in terms of my professional interests, experience as a caregiver for my mother and grandfather, research, test development and personal experiences. So I always present my ideas targeted toward persons living with dementia, their caregivers and medical providers, dementia care/case managers, and those adults concerned with improving and or maintaining their own cognitive skills or preparing for cognitive decline.

There are many applications of my ideas to many chronic and acute healthcare conditions. Caregiving issues are in many cases the same, healthcare management of different conditions may be fairly similar, and nobody has enough resources to do what they actually want to do.

Where I have great reservations in applying (or extending) my ideas about cognitive skills and quality of life is in understanding and intervening in cognitive and the other medical, and mental health issues of children and adolescents. ADHD, adolescent suicide prevention, youthful problem behaviors, dyslexia, and many other conditions require very specialized professional training. Caregiving by family members and paid trained-paid caregivers often requires different skills, knowledge, and emotional supports than it may for adult patients. While many trivialize the issues and state that declining older adults are like children, such a statement makes minimizes (in a way both pathetic and potentially dangers) the very real and large differences in the care of these groups at either end of the age spectrum.

NO posts or mind models in this blog are specialized for the very real unique needs of children, adolescents, and sometimes younger adults.

Click on the image to expand.

 

I was old enough to vote in my first presidential election in 1972 when I was 21 years old. I voted Democratic then and since then I have always voted for the Democratic candidate often as a perceived lesser of two evils. I voted for Hillary Clinton last year not because she was a good candidate or a good person (in my judgment) but she was better than Mr Trump who was the most extreme political presidential candidate since George Wallace and the most “out of it” candidate since Ross Perot. Before I could vote, I lived through the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon’s first term.

I have a neurodegenerative condition that makes me almost uncontrollably anxious at times, obsessive-compulsive at others, and not particular good at decision making. But more than ever, I think that Trump’s Fake Populism is a horrible way to run the USA and the World and I am pretty sure that in spite of cognitive decline my perceptions of Trump are accurate.

Trump’s behavior makes me very anxious and deeply concerned about the USA I will be leaving behind soon. A lot of Americans (according to recent polls, the majority) share my concerns that Trump is an extremely bad President.

I would personally feel much better if the USA required its presidential candidates to take non-partisan medical, neuropsychological, and psychological evaluations before assuming office and annually. My belief is that a group of actively practicing medical doctors enlisted in the Uniformed Services of the United States could make an overall assessment of an individual’s fitness to be “the most powerful person on earth” and commander in chief of the world’s largest army and largest biggest nuclear arsenal, as well as the architect and steward of the world’s largest budget. I note that medical doctors and other healthcare professionals in the US Uniformed Services have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It is reasonable to expect that the medical practitioners of the United States Uniformed Services can use due diligence and state-of-the-art medical skills to ensure that an individual honored with the duties of the President of the United States is physically and mentally fit to deal with the stresses of the job. I also note that 14 members of the 115th US Congress (2017-2019) are physicians (and 2 are Democrats while 12 are Republicans) and that I have confidence that their medical ethics and competence in medicine would permit a nonpartisan panel to oversee such an assessment (even though I vote as a very liberal Democrat). Perhaps Mr Trump has a medical condition affecting his ability to perform the duties of his office or perhaps he is just a bigoted, narcissistic, incompetent jerk who is quite successful at manipulating the voters of the USA, even without the assistance of Mr Putin and his hackers.

Is my cognitive decline causing my perceptions to slip in their accuracy or are my observations accurate descriptions of living for several months in #TrumpWorld?

Click on the image to expand.

Note. None of the 14 physicians in the current Congress has formal training in neurology. Since a neurological assessment is an important part of a medical exam for a 70-year old person, independent neurologists of either political party should also be part of a supervisory and assessment panel.

 

I have been living with dementia since formal diagnosis in 2010 [and the reality that it started a number of years before that].

Objectively, there is no cure for the neurodegenerative condition I have and generally progression constant.

Subjectively I feel much better now than I did when I was diagnosed.

Over the years, I learned much from other persons living with dementia who live WELL. A number of them write about their experiences in blogs and in groups on Facebook.

I’ve tried to integrate the observations and successes with my training in psychology and practice over 35 years.

I feel better now than I did six years ago. I have medications that do not cure but do help control the symptoms I found most troublesome. I reprioritized my life and focus my energy on those activities most important to me, my family, and others. Even when others cannot fully understand why I do certain things, I take solace in the fact that I have concluded that there is a higher power in the universe and that it is my responsibility to try to understand her and convey what I believe I understand to others.

Click on the image below to see some of the ways I believe one can redirect feelings of anger and despair into living well with dementia and minimize the stress on family and friends.

Feeling Better with Dementia [After Six Years of Learning How]

I love mornings. I wake up with the rush of energy and clarity.

Mid-day, ugh. By 6 PM (dinner) things can be dismal if I did not take a NAP in the afternoon. The most useful naps seem to be those take after lunch.

Evenings can be mundane or great. Certainly not as bad as the afternoons. I need to be careful that I do not stay up too late. If I do, tomorrow afternoon could be worse.

These are MY daily rhythms. They may not be yours (or those of the person in your care). But do watch and see if the time of the day tends to relate to moods and concentration levels and creativity and social skills. When mine get bad, I try to take a nap.

Click on the mind map to expand it.

and here is a “fancier” version (content is identical).

 

Since 2012, this blog has tried to help persons with dementia and their caregivers learn to use mind maps and other visual thinking tools to simplify the journey through dementia and lessen some of the burdens placed upon caregivers and persons with dementia.

Mind mapping and other visual thinking tools are ways of representing ideas and communicating through pictures and diagrams. In addition to mind maps, other useful visual thinking tools are sketchnotes, doodles, diagrams, and photography.

I focus on mind maps because that is what I primarily use, but sketchnotes and other ways of representing information are also good.

Note that while I use computer programs, you can draw any of these diagrams with a piece of typing paper (if this is not big enough for you, tape a few pieces together), a pencil or pen, and a little care to print legibly. It is best to use a few colored pencils to make the diagram a little clearer but not necessary.

The important part of the diagrams is the organization and the words (ideas) you express.

The mind map below shows some of the people who might benefit from your diagrams including the person with dementia and YOU. Mind maps are a very powerful way of presenting information to others and organizing and remembering your thoughts.

Caregiver Prepares Mind Maps for ...

Virtually any kind of information can be presented in a diagram. Here are some examples. As you collect such information you can make it available to others.

Persons with dementia benefit from knowing their schedules and what is coming up. It cuts anxiety. Doctors can absorb information from you rapidly, in context, and accurately. My internist and neurologist like to see them. Family members will like to see what is going on, and this is a way to manage and increase their own involvement in care. Mind maps about what the person with dementia likes and behaves can make your job an easier one for others to assume so that you can have some well-needed respite. Care notes can help everyone know what has been going on for the person with dementia.

Whether these notes are made by a family caregiver and loved one or made by a paid caregiver, they can be invaluable both for maintaining the quality of care and informing others the best ways they can help

Click on the image to expand it.

Potential Uses of Mind Maps by Caregivers of a Person with MiddleLater Stage Dementia

My dementia is starting to get to the point where I have a lot of trouble remembering how to spell a lot of words. I am also having increasing difficulty writing a sentence that uses the rules of grammar correctly (not that I was ever really proficient in grammar but once upon a time I wasn’t this bad).

I have been trying the program Grammarly which is a grammar and spelling checker far more sophisticated than anything inside any word processing program (notably Microsoft Word and Apple Pages) that I have used. It also can be used with your blog, Twitter and other social media posts, and lots of other programs on the Mac or PC.

Highly recommended.

To use Grammarly you must be logged into the Internet. It is also fairly necessary to have a subscription instead of using the trial, free version. Subscriptions are about $12.50 per month depending on how you pay (monthly, quarterly, annually). I think it is well worth it for me. Hopefully, the program will help me trick you into believing that I am maintaining spelling and grammar levels even as I know they are fading without the computer assist.

4

 

The bulk of the posts in this blog document my experiences using mind mapping (and more generally, visual thinking) as a way to deal with my own dementia. My own history of using these techniques is briefly summarized HERE.

Since I starting using mind maps for this purpose in 2010, my use of the mapping techniques has shifted somewhat. More and more I use the mapping methods for helping remember to take medications (and more importantly to avoid double doses if I forget that I have already taken the red pill).

Here are some of the ways I am most often using mind maps in 2017 as my dementia progresses. Please click the image to expand it.

my-most-frequent-uses-of-mind-models-in-middlelater-stage-dementia

The most important of these uses are the creative ones given in the branch at the bottom labeled “creative.” These uses are the ones that keep me interested and feeling like my contributions can be meaningful each day.

 

A few years ago I set out — as I have discussed in this blog many times — to “prove” that a person with dementia can use mind mapping in numerous ways to improve the quality of life.

Yes, a big “clinical trial” is the right way to make such a test. But I had no resources to run a clinical trial and even more importantly, no time and energy. And I mean time defined as “productive, predicted remaining life span.”

But I did have a willing participant with dementia (me) and a huge audience on social media. It is now about 4 1/2 years since I first posted a mind map on my blog site. The blog site www.Hubaisms.com now contains more than 1,000 mind maps and more than 700 posts.

Through my blog posts and their observations, usefulness to others, and my medical path, I’ve demonstrated that the technique can by used at least for one person on this planet daily and with results shown on the Internet for all to see.

No one should assume that because I believe that the method has proven effective for me that it will be effective for them. You should consult your own health care providers if you wish to try this for yourself or a person under your care.

There are many, many, many examples of the use of the methods on the blog site. What’s you excuse for not spending an hour reviewing them? My methods are useful with my dementia, but most also apply to — with a few adaptations — many other physical and mental diseases.

Click on the image below to expand it.

i-mind-map-because-2017

Mind modeling (advanced mind mapping) is a method of drawing out ideas so as to facilitate thinking.

I think that mind modeling works well for some people with early and middle stages of dementia. And I think that most people from 6-60 can master this method of visual thinking and memory retention before the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Here is a brief visual summary of this visual method. Click on the image to expand it.

mind-modeling-with-dementia