For those of you who think that the term Dementia Monster is insensitive, do remember that I have one who lives inside of me. Increase my anxiety levels and out he comes. I spend much of my energy trying to limit his ability to feed on the anxiety.
The mind model (aka mind map) below discusses my vision in developing the dementia focus on this website. I started to build the web site about two years after being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative condition (2012). Thus the entire blog is the work of a developer experiencing dementia while designing and preparing the content for the site. The site discusses my progression through cognitive impairment and decline into dementia. More importantly it discusses how I tried to help myself coordinate and use to full advantage the support and professional expertise made available to me by family, friends, the community, my doctors, and the general world-wide of patients and professionals the major issues.
Nothing in this blog post (or any other on blog post or page on the site) is intended to be, or promoted as medical, psychological, or any other form of treatment. The ideas in this blog are about using some commonsense note-taking and visual thinking methods to possible help you live better with dementia. I tried it on myself (only) and I am encouraged although I freely admit that full scientific study is needed.
These methods and comments will not substitute for medical and other professional treatments. They do not cure dementia. They do not slow down the progress of dementia. For me, at least, the methods have sustained and increased my quality of life and I do spend more time with my family and am more independent and in my opinion think better. But my dementia is not being treated and getting better; what I propose are methods that may make it easier to independently manage selected parts of your life, be in a better mood because you are trying to help yourself, be less of a burden to your caregivers, and report better to doctor what your experiences have been since the last appointment.
Many people are miserable almost all days when they have dementia. If simple, inexpensive cognitive tools can improve some or many of those days, the development of such techniques is a huge step forward.
I hope that others will examine the information here and use it to improve the decisions they, their caregivers, and their doctors and nurses must make about their formal medical treatment.
Here is what appears in the blog posts and elsewhere on Hubaisms.com.
Click on the image to expand it.
Click here to see Part 2 of My Vision in a separate window.
One way that healthcare communication can be made more effective is to supplement or replace traditional pages of small-type textual information with graphic displays such as mind models (AKA mind maps), sketches, graphs, and infographics.
This post focuses on mind models (mind maps). The same general arguments would apply to sketches, graphics, infographics, and other visual information methods designed to promote a more effective patient-oriented healthcare system with more complete, accurate, and easy-to-understand information for all.
If you are not familiar with mind models (mind maps), you should look at the mind map at the bottom of the page first (Footnote).
I have been a HUGE fan of the Olympics since I was a very little kid. In 1984 I got to go to the Olympic events in Los Angeles every day for two weeks, on many days with my father. That was the year that the Soviet Union boycotted the games because the USA had boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Heck, I thought it was great — the USA and East Germany (who came) won all of the gold medals! Months earlier when local pundits in Los Angeles said Los Angelenos were too apathetic to purchase expensive Olympic tickets especially with the Soviets and most of the Eastern Bloc boycotting as it would not be a real sporting event, I had bought as many tickets for the “finals” as I could get my hands on. Later I sold the extra tickets as Los Angeles fell in love with the games. I made so much money that the expensive tickets I had bought for the entire family of 7 that we used ended up were effectively free since the profits covered the cost of the tickets we used. Street enterprise at its best. My tickets became worth more because the Soviets didn’t come as all Americans became Olympic fans the year we won all the golds.
Winning the race to live well with dementia is like running the 10K race at the Olympics. Everybody has to pace themselves at the beginning so that they can learn about their opponents. In the final stages of the race they speed up and sprint their fasted the last 200 meters.
A mind model of the dementia race strategy is shown below. Click the image to expand it.
I think I am winning my race to live life to its fullest while having dementia. I’m getting ready to claim that gold medal. You can win your race too. Think about what you are doing and strategize like a 10K runner. Learn all you can in the beginning and then speed up later as your new knowledge kicks in.
I expect to be adding a lot of posts about (or using) sketchnotes in the next few months to Hubaisms.com. Here is how to find the existing ones and the ones I will add. The information as a sketchnote. Click on the images to expand them.
Living independently or semi-independently with cognitive impairment and early stage dementia is an admirable goal. Remember, however, that there are many cautions and possible problems that you, your caretaker, your family, and your doctors need to be aware of and monitor.
Plan to discuss these (and other) issues with your doctors and others on a regular basis. It is an important part of trying to stay as independent as possible.
This mind map is an enhanced version of a mind map I first published about a year ago. As is well recognized in the literature and discussed previously on this web site, individuals experience the progression of dementia in a number of ways depending upon the specific underlying disease or condition that causes the dementia symptoms to appear, existing psychological resilience factors independent of the neurological issues, and one’s psychological and physical resources.
You CANNOT diagnose yourself as having cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, or dementia from the information in the mind map. People without neurological OR psychological illness, problems, and issues may experience these feelings.
The map does provide an overview of some of the feelings and views that individuals whose cognitive health is declining may feel.
Etiquette in the Era of High Levels of Adult Cognitive Impairment and Ubiquitous Mobile Tablets
A little role playing exercise.
What is going on? The person (with dementia) sitting opposite you at the restaurant just pulled out an iPad and connected to the Internet. Is it rude or something else? Perhaps that person is using the iPad to look up information on the Internet (or iPad)? As technology progresses and behavior interventions are introduced for cognitive impairment, that is not an unlikely possibility.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of the person with cognitive impairment. Why might you want to consult your tablet or smartphone? How would you feel? How would your dinner companion see you. Rude? Shouldn’t. You are very very smart.
Oh, and real life, I am the guy with the dementia and iPad. Even when you do not need it, it is quite reassuring that it is there. I don’t leave home without it.
Sometimes the following trick helps me both code notes (or task lists) and grabs my attention when the ignored task list is floating around on my desk or becomes part of the wad of notes, receipts, and other small pieces of paper that accumulate in my pockets. I review the wad of paper regularly (hopefully finding it before I put the pants or shirt in the laundry and being transformed to lint in the dryer). This little trick is used by people who make sketchnotes for a living (see the wonderful books by Mike Rohde on sketchnoting). Sketchnoters — because of their business and professional audience — tend to use a more subtle and artistic version of what I do (after all their audience is wearing suits while my audience is me wearing shorts and an old T-shirt). Same principle though.
[Star Trek may have incorporated the following idea into some of its episodes.]
The thick-thin pens are called Fude de Mannen by their manufacturer Sailor and fairly inexpensive. A much more elegant and expensive option that does the same thing is any Sailor fountain pen with a Zoom nib. You can also do the same shift between thick and thin inexpensively with a Noodler’s flex pen or many calligraphy pens (the Japanese ones are best and brush pens work even better) or much more elegantly and expensively with either a Pilot Falcon pen or any Pilot pen equipped with an FA nib. I have no commercial relationship to any of these companies. The odds of finding any of these pens in a brick-and-mortar store in the USA are fairly low but they are available widely on the Internet with many coming directly from Japan (yup, they ship anywhere).
I use different writing implements to vary things, color code, and even slow myself down (like the decorative fonts do) in order to increase the time for memory encoding, to build in uniqueness that grabs attention, and to amuse myself (I am easy to amuse).
Many of these “tricks” are the same as those as used in mind mapping without the most important feature of structuring, restructuring, and formally associating many ideas.
The next logical step after these kind of notes is mind mapping which I strongly endorse. On the other hand, some people just want to takes notes and may not want to take the time to carefully think through them or organize their thoughts, and for those folks at least remember this.
&&& the purpoSe of noteS is to REmemBER in parT because the noteS are MEMOR(Y)able and you pay more attention to them ***
While I cannot prove this, it is my guess that these techniques will also be useful for those with memory and attention problems like normal aging, cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. But all of these conjectures require empirical research to substantiate and are just WAGs (Wild Ass Guesses) on my part at this time.
I frequently tweet about neurological diseases, sending out links to US government and major foundation web sites. These tweets are among the most retweeted and favorited of those I distribute.
As you may have inferred as you look at the fact sheets distributed, there are commonalities among many of these diseases above and beyond the fact that these are all diseases of the nervous system.
Very few of these diseases have treatments. Most of these diseases are rare and often not detected by primary care physicians or even related specialists like psychiatrists. Medications are frequently used off-label for controlling symptoms like depression, anger, tremor, and many others but these treatments are rarely effective for a long time, if at all, for most patients. Because these are rare diseases and neurological research itself is quite expensive, a small portion of the US medical research budget is spent looking for cures or effective symptom control.
The following mind map shows some of the commonalities among the neurological diseases. Click on the image to expand it.
The next mind map is identical to that above. The formatting has been changed so that you (and I) can judge if an alternate format is more useful for certain audiences.
It you go back a few posts you will see that I have been pretty sure recently that creative visualization (through drawing, sketching, doodling, painting, finger painting, etc.) has a strong link to creative organic (Buzan-style) mind mapping.
I don’t consider myself “artistic” in the traditional sense although I have been drawing a bunch of inky squiggle marks, cartoons, and emphases in my notes for as long as I can remember (back to elementary school 55 years ago). When I was in college I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the “pictures” I had doodled on my notes in my math and science courses and recopied the notes so that others would not see the open pages of my notebook with the doodled smiling faces, arrows, “middle fingers,” large letter expletives,” dollar signs, Greek letter shortcuts (in my profession I have an affinity for the Greek letter psi 𝚿 used as psychology, and the Greek letter sigma 𝝨 used in statistics to signify the sum of numbers and in my notes next to summations I make), traffic lights, stop signs, and lots of different kinds of squiggles and arrows. I also draw lots of cartoon faces that look nothing like anyone I know.
On a typical page of my notes two-thirds of the page is usually covered with cartoony figures and symbols and I begrudging print in some of an outline of what is being said along with color annotations. My typical notes use at least three colors.
Yeah, but my artistic ability still stinks. Can’t even draw my dog so that she will look like my dog but I do know that any cartoon figures in my notes that look anything at all like a black dog are my beloved Newfie.
Deborah Putnoi’s book The Drawing Mind shares much with the organic mind mapping theory of Tony Buzan. There is an emphasis on coding information in multiple channels (as in her exercises in drawing scents and sounds), using visual thinking methods, employing emotionally meaningful symbols, and not worrying about “photographic” drawing.
Putnoi’s approach is on meaningful, creative, visual coding of information. She emphasizes the process of coding information that may not be visual into visual symbols and grouping those symbols (“marks”) together to create visual meaning. This type of encoding is an important part of visual thinking.
If you like organic mind mapping and want to explore extensions that can go far beyond adding some clipart to a computer generated mind map, this book is extremely useful. I see a great degree of complementarity between Buzan’s radiant thinking theory and Putnoi’s theory of coding information into a visual form. Historically, Buzan’s theory has incorporated “hand drawn” (that is creative, personally meaningful) elements since it’s earliest development.
And, the subtitle on Putnoi’s book — Silence You Inner Critic and Release Your Creative Spirit — gets a “four thumbs up” (actually two thumbs and two big toes, visualize signaling that) rating for its significance to both her work on drawing and Buzan’s theory of mind mapping.
Highly recommended. And bring your pencil as that is needed to read the book.
It is my personal belief that Putnoi-type symbolizations may be very useful those in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia as a way to code and save visual information and potentially express this information to others. But that is my hypothesis, and whether it is true or not, Ms Putnoi’s book is an exceptional one that teaches some critical skills in visual thinking through a series of “exercises” or studies of process..
Here is a technique I would try with someone with cognitive impairment. It might also work well with a child, an elder, or anyone else in-between who needs a little help with organization and planning. A caregiver can prepare a mind map or you can prepare one for yourself.
I find the size of standard business envelopes (#10 in the USA) to be just about perfect as a daily information catcher. You can write your schedule on the front and slide the envelope in a pocket, small bag, or the inner pockets of most men’s jackets either unfolded or folded. And since this is an envelope, throughout the day as you pick up receipts, reminder cards for your next appointment with the dentist, a flyer about a concert and all the other little tidbits of life that get lost in your pocket and end up in the clothes washer you can insert them into the envelope and have a good chance of not losing some important information.
Using a mind map instead of a list on the front of the envelope can engage the user, permit color coding, and makes it easier to remember the content.
Takes a couple of minutes.
Yup boss, I have the receipt from lunch.
I printed the mind map on an actual business envelope and then scanned it. The green paper was just a background for the scan.
You can use any style you like for the mind map. I chose a font designed for individuals with dyslexia just to illustrate tailoring the content and style of the map to the individual using it.
This mind map was designed in iMindMap. If you wish you can add clipart or photos to the branches; typically I would not just because of the small size of the envelope. Bright colors can substitute for images to engage attention and color code sections.
One can change the map simply by crossing out information that has changed and making notes on the map with a pen.
I think that this can be a very good technique for a paid or family caregiver of someone with cognitive impairment. Prepare the envelope in the morning or preceding evening and go over it with the patient when it will be used (mornings are preferable). I did not put the person’s name on the envelope since the front or inside may contain private information (names of doctors and similar information like medication reminders). I would not put medications in the envelope as they fall out too easily. It may be useful, however, to carry a small amount of paper money in the envelope. Also a standard card with the the caregiver’s first name and telephone-email may prove helpful should there be a health or other problem.
Governments and other public entities are increasing their use of web sites as the primary publication outlet for medical, human services, and research information.
The transition to electronic publication saves money as well as other resources and at the same time is much more environmentally-friendly. At least a few forests in the world owe their lives to the decision of some of the largest paper users in the world to move to electronic publishing.
Electronic publishing offers a special advantage not generally available in traditional publishing on paper. On the Internet it costs no more to include colors, simple and complex images, and images that expand to show greater detail. And it is much less expensive for publications to present, in addition to their traditional text, graphics maximized facilitate creative thinking, memory retention, “big picture thinking,” and explanations that may be easier for individuals using other languages and from other cultures to understand.
Not everyone in the world does their primary thinking using words. Many — including me — find visual information more valuable, easier to assimilate, and more supportive of creative insights.
How often do you see a #MindMap, #ConceptMap, #FlowDiagram, or other visual representation on a government web site? While there are plenty of pie diagrams and line charts, such representations of data are quite limited and do NOT incorporate informed interpretation of information. Also, while there are plenty of pictures on government web sites, these images do NOT incorporate informed interpretation of information and they may give a quite biased view of data.
I do not recall ever seeing a #MindMap, #ConceptMap, or #FlowDiagram on the (otherwise extremely useful and high quality) web sites of the US Social Security Agency, the abstracts in the PubMed medical and scientific information databases, and the US government’s explanations of research and social programs, diseases and social conditions, and social service eligibility forms.
World-wide thinking is increasingly visual. Official information should be presented using both the traditional text-based methods currently employed AND newer, very effective methods of visual thinking. The brain is not limited to a single form of thinking and in fact research shows clearly that some of us (including me) handle visual data far more effectively and perform some of our best work using visual thinking techniques. Research also suggests that as the brain changes through disease processes such as Alzheimer’s disease and other more rare neurodegenerative conditions, as verbal centers suffer damage, visual centers may assume increasing importance.
While I strongly prefer #MindMaps as the method of presenting visual information, I could accept #ConceptMaps, #FlowDiagrams, and other visual thinking representations as at least a first start.
Of the mind mapping methods, I strongly believe that the Buzan-style organic mind maps including color-coding, size-coding, radiant information structures, and methods designed to optimize memory retention, memory retrieval, creativity, and cross-cultural communication are the most effective. A recent addition to mind mapping has been Huba’s method of mind modeling that adds all of the components shown in the figure below.
Part 1 of this series of posts can be accessed in a separate window by clicking here.
Art therapy is fairly well established as a non-medical intervention that can be made for those living with dementia in order to improve certain aspects of quality of life.
My hypothesis is that if individuals with dementia or other levels of cognitive impairment can be taught to use (and possibly create) ORGANIC mind maps, it is likely that the patient will receive more than just the benefits of standard art therapy. Major cognitive refinements from mind mapping such as maximizing creativity, memory processes, organization, and visual thinking can be added “on top of” the creation of one’s own drawings or paintings. At one level, mind mapping is disciplined and expansive creation of art. It is likely that at least some of those living with cognitive impairment can use the visual thinking tools offered by Buzan-style ORGANIC mind mapping to improve their optimism and creativity and other aspects of quality of life.
You might want to consider acquiring visual thinking skills before you have the onset of possible cognitive impairment as you age.
Click on the mind map image to expand.
To understand the mind map better from the clinical experiences of the patient, family, and healthcare providers, you may wish to …
Aaahh … “hard science double-blind” research designs.
How do you apply such a design to determine if visual thinking-art therapy-visual cognitive remapping strategies help those who live with cognitive impairment? Do you put a paper bag over the head of the patient and over the head of the healthcare provider-art therapist-social worker? Or blind them.
I don’t think so. Even scientists who bow to the Science God (often noting the relationship to Thor) are not that dum or stoopid. Scientists willing to accept “softer” data and designs like clinical observations, case studies, interviews, and knowledgeable peer judgments are willing to accept the relationship found for some people showing mind mapping is an effective (and cost-effective) way of making some situations less stressful and more productive and life quality enhancing for those living with cognitive impairment.
However, try searching the scientific literature with Google or PubMed for studies of mind mapping and cognitive impairment-dementia. Not a lot of “hard science” results to be found. I see this not as a failure of the efficacy of the method of mind mapping but rather the fact that the brick walls of hard science are not broken down by the sound of trumpets or the roar of a lion. There is a missing link and probably many studies that indirectly demonstrate that mind mapping works well with cognitively impaired patients but are not labeled as such.
Last week I read what I judge to be a highly credible and careful study by two neurologists and an art therapist that was published in April 2014. I think they found the missing link and data supporting it, although they did not call the intervention technique mind mapping for those with cognitive impairment. Instead they called the intervention-life skill to be ART THERAPY for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
There is a LOT of literature showing that Art Therapy increases social interactions, understanding, motivation, enjoyment of life, associations, and perhaps memory among those living with dementia, and even for those in the latter stages of the disease.
What is Art Therapy? Applying color, form, creative ideas, social interactions (with a teacher and other participants) and positive psychological states to try to understand the world better and communicate the perceptions of the artist.
What is ORGANIC (Buzan-style) mind mapping? Applying color, forms, creative ideas, interactions, and positive psychological states PLUS radiant, hierarchical, and nonlinear organization to try to understand the world better and communicate the perceptions of the artist.
Is this conceptualization of mind mapping with and by the cognitively impaired as an enhanced formulation of ART THERAPY (conducted by a professional, family or friends, caregivers, the patient her- or himself) to help individuals use visual thinking strategies to navigate their world a break through one? I think it is the scientific missing link and we can bootstrap from the findings that Art Therapy is a good intervention for dementia to ORGANIC mind mapping may be a good intervention for dementia and perhaps will achieve a greater effect than less focused “art.”
Here is a link to the paper. Click on it to retrieve the article.
As a technical note, the authors’ use of meta-analysis to combine the results from a number of independent studies selected for their methodological soundness is an accepted one which has become popular in the past three decades.
I want to see much more research on this topic. BUT, I think that we are currently moving in the correct direction in a “leap frog” way with great speed.
Keep both eyes open and click on the image below to expand it.
When you are done, part 2 can be accessed in a new window by clicking here.
For many — myself included — it is hard to keep track of the detail of a life. There are contacts and notes and the darn records and all kinds of other data collection, data recording, and conceptual data analysis as in making decisions. Mind maps and other devices can help motivate and aid all people in collecting and recording the details of their lives.
Now think how difficult it may be to keep track of the details in the life of a person whose ability to remember or analyze or plan or make associations is impaired and who feels less motivated than ever to keep track of day-to-day events and thus CONTINUE TO LIVE INDEPENDENTLY FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. Bright, artistic, interesting mind maps can help a person see all the pieces, organize a little better, and perhaps remember things when one can no longer expect to remember appointments, birthdays, and how to make a fancy sandwich or what to buy every week at the grocery store.
Here’s some things mind maps can make easier for the cognitively impaired, those in early stages of dementia, those unmotivated to be organized or to plan, and everybody else.
Google Glass can almost immediately be used as a technology to help those living with dementia and cognitive impairment recognize faces and associate names and other information, know their location, and make associations between environments and their own life experiences. The software needed to be used along with Google Glass is, in most cases, existing and needs to simply be modified for individuals.
Click image to expand.
Blog posts and other information about the use of Google Glass with those living with Alzheimer’s as well as other types of dementia can be accessed by clicking here. A new window will open with current suggestions from a Google search.
This YouTube video shows the national award winning science project of four sixth grade girls. The future of Alzheimer’s care is in good hands.
The golden rule of using mind maps in healthcare settings is to provide information to a patient, the patient’s family, or another service provider. It’s all about customizing any “standardized” templates used to fit the patient’s needs, beliefs, behaviors, priorities, and background. Click mind map to expand.
Hans Buskes and Philippe Packu in their recent book on mind mapping raise the issue of the best fonts to use in mind maps for clarity and usefulness.
I tend to agree with their suggestions BUT ONLY when the mind map is developed for general communication to large groups of people with whom the mind map developer probably has little direct connection. This is the typical situation for mind maps shown in books written by “mind mapping experts” for general groups of readers. It is the typical situation in management consulting and professional presentations.
my notes are for me; your notes are for you
my to do list is for me; your to do list is for you
my personal feelings are for me
my life history is for me and my family
my social history is for me and my friends
my creative work is best done with small groups of peers, friends, and colleagues who communicate with one another in a relaxed and informal way
Makes you wonder whether developing mind maps with “standard business” fonts such as Georgia or Tahoma or Arial or Times Roman is an especially effective way to make maps primarily for your own use, especially if you have any types of cognitive impairment or special cognitive needs.
I am much more motivated to work on maps and refer to them and plan from them and keep my schedule in a mind map if the fonts in the mind maps do not look like I have urgent BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS to make.
I like to kick back and use a large number of different professionally developed “hand-printed” fonts which I often match to the topics/content of the map and whatever gets the creative juices going.
You can see lots of examples of using fonts to inspire creativity in the variations among the mind maps presented in the posts in this blog.
Now, let’s generalize these concerns to people with various kinds of cognitive and perceptual impairments (mild cognitive impairment or MCI, early-stage dementia, later stages of dementia, typical aging, learning disabilities, and illness).
Someone with mild cognitive impairment developing a mind map to help in planning an event or making a decision or scheduling may find it much easier, productive, and creative to work with mind maps in various unique fonts appropriate for the topic, the individual’s preferences, or for novelty rather the usual “readable” business fonts. Many no longer work or ever had the opportunity to work among those who develop “management” presentations. “Personal” fonts in mind maps and other visual thinking methods may make them more effective as planning, thinking, and memory tools, especially for those with cognitive impairment.
Of course this is my conjecture based on my own preferences and knowledge of some of the relevant literature on neurodegenerative diseases. To the best of my knowledge no studies have ever proven what the best fonts are for mind maps for different types of people with different types of uses for maps on different days of the week in the winter or summer or even when the moon is full.
To push my creativity, I want my maps to look hand-printed and personal and not like a business presentation or a doctoral dissertation.
Now at the extreme you could always use one of the free services on the Internet for developing your own personal font(s) based on your own printing or cursive writing! I tried. The results are below.
I personally intend to stay with commercially developed hand-printed fonts by pros and try to pass those off as “my own” handwriting. I am sure that I can read their “handwriting” a lot better than my own.
PART 1 discussed my view that a world wide memory is available to supplement an aging (and especially cognitively impaired) person’s biological personal memory (a.k.a. the brain).
Seems obvious, but is it?
I contend that even though Google and the huge information database contained on the Internet have been around for a while, it is only just now starting to be understood that this information can be “mined” and reorganized for individuals.
It’s not just about Facebook either although Facebook is an important part of it. As are all of the other social networks, the stuff for sale on the Internet, the old stuff on your computer, and the old stuff on the computers of your extended family.
It’s all about visualization, visual information processing, and rearranging that visual information for the individual. Like your Uncle Fred who is “losing it” or your Mom who has lost it or yourself. Or leaving behind visualizations for your kids and grandkids or your spouse (who even after decades will not know how you view all of the things that shaped you and are important).
In the spirit of visualization, lets go to a mind map for explaining visual thinking.
I’m getting old. Show me some pictures of Yankee Stadium two blocks from where I lived as an infant in 1951. Or remind me about those kids I knew in High School. Whatever ever happened to my office mate from grad school? Where could I get a copy of my college yearbook? The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were great (I went everyday for two weeks), how about some pictures? What does the home I grew up in look like now (apparently almost exactly like it did after my parents’ deaths, although the guy who bought it from us obviously does not know how to take care of shrub beds). Neighborhood looks almost identical, just the trees are bigger.
Don’t have photos or descriptions of some place or event you went to. The Internet does. Want to make sure the tales you have told for 30 years about freezing your ass off in Minnesota in ’76-77 were grounded in reality. Yup, the stat charts clearly indicate that was the case.
Look up something you seem to have forgotten. Browse information about events and places and you may find that you (with or without the help of the hyperlinks in Wikipedia) can remember even more things.
Are you a caregiver or healthcare provider for an individual with cognitive decline? It’s pretty easy to use the Internet as a big box of memories and pictures and even context to help the patient retrieve memories or relive parts of the past.
Given how I typically feel about the billionaire Darth Vader Juniors over at Google who trample individual privacy in the unending search for more liquid currencies, it’s going to be tough to say, but …
Just Google it.
Find out about your life or your parents’ or retrieve memories or recreate associations.
[Just remember that the world’s memory will also record what you just asked about so as to try to sell you yearbooks, genealogy services, or New York Yankee collectibles.]
Having a fairly accurate, very comprehensive collective world memory will potentially help many who are losing their own biological cognitive functions. It could very well help in caregiving and helping patients maintain or even increase their quality of life. Darth Vader Junior might even make it back from the Dark Side by providing funds and other resources to use the accumulated information of the Internet to help those with aging memory banks and CPUs.
Click on the image to expand it and see how these ideas go together. Form some new associations. The mind map in which the information is presented will help you do that.
This post does not contain medical advice. None of the methods described are known to be therapeutic. What is described are possible note-taking or information-sharing models for patient-client-self management.
For the past few months, I have been focusing on the use of mind maps to assist people with dementia, cognitive impairment, or cognitive decline deal with various issues that arise as they work hard to maintain independence.
You can access those posts simply by using the search box at the bottom of each post with keywords like “dementia” or “cognitive.” Several dozen blog posts will pop up with most very recent.
But the reality is that as dementia or other cognitive problems progress, many patients will require increasing amounts of supervision and care. Mind maps may prove to be useful in assisting a caregiver to help in a more effective, and cost–effective, manner.
Just as those with cognitive decline may be able to remember, plan, express themselves, and document their lives in maps, caregivers may be able to use these techniques themselves to provide better care and client management. Mind maps may potentially help the caregiver recall the preferences of the client, as well as the client’s life history, important events, significant people, and life style
Caregivers may find that visual information recorded in mind maps provides a good way for the caregiver and the client to start discussions.
Caregivers may find that clients can express themselves better with pictures, drawings, doodles than in words.
Caregivers may find that their own notes from each day are more useful if captured in the format of mind maps.
Caregivers may find that mind maps may be used for brainstorming by themselves, with healthcare providers, with family members, and with the client ways to organize daily events, select food and clothing, remember medications, and organize social events.
Caregivers may find it useful to record their own feelings in mind maps as a way of dealing with the emotional and physical stress of caregiving.
The daily calendar — including doctor visits and other appointments and visitors — may be easier to prepare as a mind map and much more useful to the client.
There are dozens of other ways mind maps might be useful in caregiving. I am going to write many posts on this topic in the next months. For now, here are a few examples with many more to come.
Click on each of the images to expand it.
Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of the Client’s Preferences.
Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of the Client’s Religious Beliefs.
Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of Things the Client Especially Enjoys.
Preparing Mind Maps from the Warning Brochure that Comes with Each Prescription Refill.
Preparing a Mind Map of Each Day for Your Use and That of the Client.
Technical notes. The sample mind maps here were all prepared in the computer program iMindMap, which I strongly prefer both for the way it facilitates mapping and the way it typically produces maps that can be very useful. There are alternate programs that can be used, although perhaps not with the same level of good results possible with iMindMap. Because the maps will be used by caregivers and clients, they will tend to be most effective if colorful, “bold,” graphically interesting, and with large typefaces all of which are easily done in iMindMap. Acceptable alternatives to iMindMap would be iThoughts, Inspiration on the iPad (but not on the PC or Mac), MindNode, and XMIND, although each of the alternatives will be more difficult to use to produce maps for clients with cognitive decline than is iMindMap. There are free mind map programs available or free demo versions. This is a case, however, where paid versions are far more cost-effective than the free versions or most free programs. There is a second type of mind mapping program more suitable for business purposes (the major one is MindJet MindManager and also MindDomo and MindMeister) than those caregiving applications discussed here.
THAT (clip from information sheet attached to prescription refill)
OR THIS (pictures could be added, fonts could be changed, colors could be changed, style could be changed)? [I am NOT advocating any specific design without pilot testing although I tend to like some of the designs near the top and near the bottom better, especially since I believe they will communicate more effectively to all ages but note that this has not been proven. And, note that a professional designer could undoubtedly do a better job on the artistic elements and a neurocognitive specialist would be quite valuable as a reviewer to maximize impact.]
Click on any image to expand through several levels of zooming.
Here are links to some earlier posts about events, people, reactions, and other information you might wish to document as you age so that you (or a caregiver or younger family member) will have the information later. Each of these posts illustrates combining text and images. These examples are ones that can be done by you before you have any cognitive problems as a self history as well as with a caregiver after problems occur. Any whether you ever need to use to help you if there is a cognitive decline, these are great ways of passing down information from generation. I wish I knew much of this information about my parents and other family members. Click on links to see examples.
Most individuals use notes and checklists and reminders and calendars — fancy or simple — to help deal with loss of memory or the ability to make decisions or prioritize tasks and remember people.
There are better ways to take notes and manage calendars and enhance-stimulate memory and other cognitive functions. I think mind mapping (Buzan-style) is the best way to perform these tasks.
Although better note-taking will not cure brain degeneration, it may increase quality of life and the ability to remain independent or mildly dependent for a longer time. Even a few better days in a month is a huge improvement for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases and something to be treasured.
Missed patients appointments represent a major wasted cost within the healthcare system.
Huge amounts of resources are wasted when patients miss appointments. Expensive healthcare providers in expensive medical office space with expensive equipment and expensive staff are not utilized to their fullest resulting in a loss to the overall system.
To deal with missed patient appointments, clinics often schedule a few more patients than they have time slots in order to compensate for the number of patients who may not arrive or may arrive later than scheduled.
If everybody actually shows up at appointments in the compensatory, over-booked environment, several things happen; doctors and staff get stressed because they have to squeeze patients into the schedule and patients get pissed off their doctor cannot be in their examination room on time or earlier.
So the system needs to get patients into healthcare clinics on the correct day at the correct time. A number of strategies are typically used.
Do you think that the average elderly or cognitively challenged individual (and caregiver) understands and remembers those reminder messages left on their voice mail or those short telephone communications from an obviously harried staff member?
Do you think that the small type, too many words, black-and-white business letter does the trick? Do you think the letters get opened? Do you think that aging folks can all read small fonts or understand a packed letter without white space?
Do you want to increase the rate of patients showing up for appointments? Look at this general framework and the example I provide below.
Use a mind map, improve patient care and help make the service system more efficient.
Click on images to expand.
A clerical staff member should review the completed form with a patient or caregiver.
Personally I would send the mind map home (or in the mail) with a few brightly colored refrigerator magnets (with my phone number on them) suggesting that the patient or caregiver put the appointment mind map on the door. I would also send a second copy to be put wherever these things usually go, or to share with the caregiver. Refrigerator magnets are very inexpensive and if printed with your name and phone number will increase the number of times patients will call to reschedule rather than just skip the appointment because they cannot find your phone number (and guess what percentage of elderly or cognitively challenged or disabled or practicing physician adults might not be able to find the business card and did not enter your office phone number into their smartphones?).
Oh, and even if the form slips off the refrigerator and is whisked off to recycling by a rushed and harried house cleaner, the refrigerator magnets will still be there so the patient can call to get the scheduling information.
Try something like this. If it works you save a lot of wasted time and loss of income and frustration. Your patients get better healthcare because they remember to see you when it is medically desirable to do so. The caregivers will like it because it makes their jobs easier.
And if it doesn’t work better than the same-old, same-old, you have only lost a few hours of clerical time spent implementing a system of mind map appointment reminders.
This is certainly not a complete list. Rather, it responds in part to the mind map in the previous post about the possible feelings of someone with dementia or cognitive decline. The mind map below is not medical or psychological advice. For questions about caregiving training for those helping #dementia patients, see your doctor for appropriate referrals in your area.