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

Posts tagged Cognitive Decline

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.

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Click here to see Part 2 of My Vision in a separate window.

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Not the past, not what might happen in the future. Fuzzy, intuitive, today’s emotions. Nonlinear, visual, big picture. Attention flows toward good, bright, happy visualizations.

 

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Opening your mind to nonlinear thinking may provide cognitive reserve that helps you as cognitive functions start to decline perhaps precipitously into dementia. Neuroplasticity is a mechanism that the brain will uses to reassign functional processing from one area to the brain as it is damaged by trauma or disease.

One very good way to encourage the development of cognitive reserve and neuroplasticity is to practice nonlinear thinking methods that can help promote mindful solutions. Should the brain become damaged, it may be able to use nonlinear, symbolic visual thinking to cope, at least for a while. And while you practice you may also experience strength in your resolve and understanding.

Do note that the above comments are speculative. There is NO formal research on mind mapping nor other comments about this in the literature (other than my own). Also this is based only on my own experience and generalizations from my earlier research on daydreaming and imagery. So do not go about thinking that this proven. Rather it is speculative.

While I theorize that mind mapping is related to mindfulness in SOME applications, even if it turns out that it is not — from the results of formal empirical studies — there are other demonstrated benefits from mind mapping, so the actual use of mind mapping should still be encouraged.

A mind model (aka mind map) on the way that ideas hit you when you have dementia.

In a group, the need to say something immediately before you forget it often takes a backseat to etiquette rules of waiting for your turn to say something and not interrupting. If you are talking to someone with dementia, consider cutting them slack and letting them jump in when they can. If the group won’t let the person with dementia break in it can lead to both a sense of frustration for all and quite frankly, the loss of some good ideas and interactions.

The current rules of etiquette do not take account of the fact that some of the participants in an interaction will have severe cognitive impairment or mental illness that pretty means that if a thought is not expressed immediately it will be forgotten.

Sometimes rules need to be stretched or curved (like a railway track) and patience exercised. This is one of those times.

f I am trying to blurt out an idea to you, believe me that if I don’t say it immediately it is going down the track far, far away from me. And it may not come back for another five minutes (if at all).

Click on the image to expand.
ideas-in-dementia-come-at-you-like-a-runaway-train

 

 

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Since the beginning of this blog in 2012, I have consistently — with each new version — concluded (from dozens of comparisons with other programs) that iMindMap is the single best program for developing mind maps. Period.

With version 8.0, iMindMap is no longer the world’s best mind mapping program. Rather, it is the world’s best mind mapping program PLUS additional features that make it the world’s best visual thinking environment (or VITHEN using my coined term). Period.

What makes iMindMap 8.0 so valuable as an overall mind mapping and visual thinking tool is that it encourages you to use iterative, hierarchical, nonlinear, big-picture, creative ways of generating ideas, communicating those ideas, and integrating the ideas with the data of images and statistics. There is no tool I know of that is better for these overall tasks and the building of creative models.

I use iMindMap between 3 and 10 hours per day on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone 6 Plus.

Version 8 exceeds Version 7 in that the program has been significantly speeded up both for computer processing and in general usability of all of its advanced formatting features. The increased speed with which advanced formatting can be done encourages more precise and creative visual thinking.

Did I mention it has a very good (becoming excellent) 3 dimensional display mode and provides a much better presentation tool than the PowerPoint standard? The new Brainstorming Mode (file cards on a corkboard metaphor) allows those who like to see words rather than images to brainstorm in the mode most natural to them. I’ll never use the mode but I project many will embrace it.

The iMindMap program has been the best tool I have had to allow me deal with a neurocognitive neurodegenerative disorder and continue to be productive over the past five years. The program permits me to think at a very high level which I cannot do nearly as well with other techniques or other mind mapping programs.

All seven maps shown here are identical except for their format.

[I intentionally did not use any clipart because I did not want distract from the basic creative thinking and model development-presentation functions of iMindMap that are the real core of the program. With any of the variations of this map, if you spend 10 minutes adding selected included clipart or icons, the map will be even more visual.]

The remainder of my review is — appropriately — presented as a mind map.

Click images to expand.

Three styles provided with the iMindMap program.

1iMindMap 8.02iMindMap 8.03iMindMap 8.0




4 Custom Styles I Use in My Own Work and 4 Variations on the Same 3D Mind Map

gh1Imindmap 8.0gh2Imindmap 8.0gh3Imindmap 8.0gh4Imindmap 8.0

Imindmap 8.0 3D4Imindmap 8.0 3D3Imindmap 8.0 3d2Imindmap 8.0 3D

 










bolero cover 3 parts FINAL

 

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.

Read the warnings. This is CRITICAL information.

Click image to expand.

3Life with  Dementia  Cautions  and Warnings

 

 

 

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The majority of the posts on this blog are about using visual thinking methods — of which I think that by far the best is #Buzan-style organic mind mapping — to understand, explain, evaluate, and communicate about healthcare. A lot of my own thinking has focused on using visual thinking techniques to potentially improve the quality of life of those with cognitive impairment and dementia.

Tony Buzan and Chris Griffiths and their colleagues and staff at ThinkBuzan have done a very comprehensive job at getting many of Buzan’s ideas embedded into a general purpose computer program (iMindMap) which provides a general visual thinking environment, of which mind mapping is a special part. There are many computer assisted mind mapping programs, but I have concluded that iMindMap is by far the best for creative visual thinking and communication, in no small part because it fully incorporates Buzan’s theory and theoretical implementation.

Like scientists and management consultants and educators and healthcare providers and patients and patient caregivers and students and many others, illustrators struggle with how to best use visual representations to support better thinking and communications.

Which brings up this beautifully conceived and executed little book that I have found to be mind expanding and liberating in how to develop and use a series of illustration techniques and “tricks” to look at things differently when trying to make creative breakthroughs.

Whitney Sherman is the author of the book “Playing with Sketches” which provides 50 exercises which collectively will change the way you think about creating images to understand and communicate ideas.While Ms. Sherman wrote the book for designers and artists, the techniques will be just as useful for visual thinkers in science, education, medicine, industry, and other fields. The beauty of Ms Sherman’s exercises is that in showing you fairly simple ways to make hugely informative and well designed images, the tools will themselves suggest many applications to visual thinkers of all types.

And, I have found that Ms. Sherman’s techniques can be used by the severely artistically challenged (of which I am one); the techniques are ones for Visual THINKERS, not necessarily artists and designers.

I have mentioned this book before in much less detail, but in the months I have used the methods, I have found that they WORK very well to facilitate creative visual thinking. For me they have promoted a breakthrough in how I see the visual thinking canvas.

Get the book, try some of the techniques (pick a random one here and there to start), discover that great artistic talent or aptitude is not required, and see how the techniques fit the information you study in search for better healthcare or disease prevention or decision making or facilitating creative group processes.

In partnership with Tony Buzan’s techniques for organic #mindmapping and Mike Rohde’s framework for #sketchnoting, the techniques codified by Whitney Sherman provide very powerful visual thinking tools.

Ms. Sherman’s website is http://www.whitneysherman.com. She tweets at @Whitney_Sherman. The book is available from major online book sellers.

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I will be posting some examples of using the sketching techniques of Ms. Sherman to developing assistance and communication techniques for those with cognitive impairment or early-mid stages of dementia.

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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.

I have certainly had a number of these feelings at times as I have gone through various stages of neurodegenerative disease. But you can fight back and live well with dementia.

Click on the map to expand it.

 

 

Some Feelings During Cognitive Decline to Dementia2

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.

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[Star Trek may have incorporated the following idea into some of its episodes.]

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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).

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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.

neurological diseases features common to many conditions

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.

neurological diseases features common to many conditions2

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.

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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.

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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..

Available at major Internet book sellers.

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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.

Notes:

  1. I printed the mind map on an actual business envelope and then scanned it. The green paper was just a background for the scan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Click the image to expand it.

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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.

Click image to expand.

IMPROVING GOVERNMENT INFORMATIONAL WEB SITES

Comedy and tragedy theatrical masks

Recently I have had a number of discussions with Tony Buzan (@Tony_Buzan) about how the relationships between art and creativity and dementia support the conclusion that mind mapping may be useful in helping those with cognitive impairment. I believe that my my conclusions are supported by a sufficiently large scientific literature of credible studies to make the assertion of the probable link and to suggest that additional research should prove to be fruitful.

Here is how I access credible scientific research in the fields of medicine, healthcare, mental health, and related fields. Note that in addition to my searches, the same system works the same way with searches for information about cancer, heart disease, ADHD, autism not being related to vaccination, and organ enhancement of various kinds. Patients, scientists, and those who make medical claims late at night on informercials may want to consult this database. Especially informercial producers who disseminate inappropriate, biased, and wrong health information and claim it is medically-proven.

Click to expand.

Scientific Literature  on Dementia,  Art, Creativity

 

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.

Hypothesis  Mind Map = Art Plus  for those with  cognitive impairment

To understand the mind map better from the clinical experiences of the patient, family, and healthcare providers, you may wish to …

view this trailer …

or this excerpt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqQ6JNnNiNg

Search the Internet to buy the whole video or the book as pictured below  …

bothcovers

 

The book and the video have complementary information and both should be studied.

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.

Click on the image to expand,

mind maps  may help  cognitively  impaired ...

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.

Google Glass &  Cognitive Impairment  Early Dementia

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.

FINAL Mind Mapping for a Patient  from the  Patient's Perspective  It's All About Me,  Stoopid

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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.

Please click to expand.

CREATE THE  PERSONAL INTERNET  TO SUPPLEMENT  YOUR MEMORY

Or same map, slightly different format …

2CREATE THE  PERSONAL INTERNET  TO SUPPLEMENT  YOUR MEMORY

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.

Click here for Part 2 of this discussion.

Replace your aging memory with the world's knowledge

The first version was published a few posts ago and created in iMindMap 6. The original post has a discussion of the highly credible web sites from which the information in the map was developed.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

This second version was created by reformatting the first using some new tools available in iMindMap 7 and capitalizing on the improvements in speed and ease-of-use of tools that had been available in iMindMap 6, but in a more primitive way. In particular, it is now much easier to work with text meaning that pulling text into positions on the canvas ringing the map may be a good way to store data related to the conclusions embedded within the mind map.

I7 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease.imx

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.

  1. 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
  2. Caregivers may find that visual information recorded in mind maps provides a good way for the caregiver and the client to start discussions.
  3. Caregivers may find that clients can express themselves better with pictures, drawings, doodles than in words.
  4. Caregivers may find that their own notes from each day are more useful if captured in the format of mind maps.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Preferences  Hypothetical  Individual

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Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of the Client’s Religious Beliefs.

Religious Beliefs

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Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of Things the Client Especially Enjoys.

SPECIAL TREATS

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Preparing Mind Maps from the Warning Brochure that Comes with Each Prescription Refill.

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OR

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Preparing a Mind Map of Each Day for Your Use and That of the Client.

Today  Tuesday  November 12

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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)

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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.

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In the past I have blogged about my suggestion that Public Health students learn to use methods like mind maps and other visualizations to make health brochures and posters more informative and compelling to the public. Here I am going to show some examples.

The information in this post derives from very credible web sites. [As a note, much of the information about Alzheimer’s disease and “normal” or typical aging appears to be accurately derived from the public domain information put online by various departments of the US government.]

For each image, click to expand.

The American Medical Association has this very informative page on its web site.

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I believe that the following mind map is better for explaining the information.

Typical Aging or Dementia

[I acknowledge the fact that various mind map “artists” can make this map more visually appealing and I see this as a first draft.]

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The Alzheimer’s Association has posted this professionally valid information on its web site designed in a way as to be compelling through its high density of high quality warnings.

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The “problem” with this brochure is that it is “too dense” for me (and probably anyone else without a professional background in medicine) to be able to understand and remember the information. How about including this graphic as a third page (ideally as the ENTIRE page 2) in the brochure. I would bet that the outcomes from the  extra understandability and memory retention for this critical information would prove to far offset any additional printing costs.

10  Warning  Signs of  Alzheimer's  Disease

[I acknowledge the fact that various mind map “artists” can make this map more visually appealing and I see this as a first draft.]

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.

Beliefs and Values

Diary

Traditional Timeline

Symbolic Timeline

Stories

Letters

Data Visualizations

Career in Perspective

Social Media

Favorites

Some Things to Document as You Age

In the past few days I have posted about using mind maps and similar tools to “fight back” against cognitive impairment and then in a follow up post discussed some of the tools that can be used to potentially improve your ability to deal with cognitive impairment.

Today I am posting about paying some attention to the methods you use to communicate and remember and make decisions and express approval and make other appropriate reactions to others. What will YOU do If your mind fails due to a degenerative condition, a disease, the luck of the genetic draw, or because you are so dumb you refused to wear a helmet while riding your bicycle or motorcycle, or even due to playing football and huge traumatic blows to the brain while wearing a clearly inadequate helmet over the course of decades.

You are told (but probably tune it out like I do) that you should plan for disasters ranging from total disability or an earthquake or a hurricane or the election of a Tea Party President to such things as the day your dog needs hospitalization.

Did anyone ever tell you that you should considering learning some alternate ways of thinking and organizing your memories and planning than the ones you have used for most of your life.

What’s more important to you, having a few bottles of water in your basement in case there is a hurricane or earthquake in the neighborhood or learning new ways of thinking or remembering or making decisions that you might want to use now or after your memory starts to fail.

Consider yourself being told to look into this before somebody hits you with a car while you are weaving through urban traffic on your bicycle without a helmet or you learn that you lost the genetic lottery and have early stage X or Y or Z or xx or yy or etc.

I am not suggesting that you abandon the way you have thought for the bulk of your life if that style ia effective for you. I am suggesting that in case you have brain trauma from an accident or sports involvement or disease or start cognitive decline due to a brain anomaly, you know some alternate ways to think and store–retrieve information and make decisions using simple techniques.

I have a very well developed set of skills that has allowed me to have a great career. If one of those parts of my brain that produces good results for me is damaged, I want to make sure that I can switch out the bad memory drive (symbolically) in my head for another one. Or I can replace the logic program that got corrupted by damage to certain parts of the brain with a different method of doing the same thing utilizing other parts of the brain.

So here’s the deal. Take a look at the mind map below and see if it helps you recognize that you should start to take stock of all that wonderful data and hardware for processing it that lies in your brain and figure out how you are going to change the logic board and memory drives if you are unlucky and you need to try to make repairs.

Click on the image to expand it.

why you might want to start using cognitive-behavioral tools now and not after significant cognitive decline

Recently I discussed fighting backing against cognitive aging with mind mapping, a cognitive-behavioral technique.

Lets take a look at the how and why.

  1. Most neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia have no cure nor particularly effective way of controlling the symptoms of the disease.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Click on image to expand.

Cognitive-Behavioral Tools for Fighting Cognitive Decline

As is said (albeit in a quite different context) “use it or lose it.”

You age and people tell you to start doing crossword puzzles (I’ve never liked them) or to do simple arithmetic on an iPad (hhmmm… I prefer advanced mathematics) or to get your pictures together in a box (I prefer slide shows from a high-end photo processing app).

Use it or lose it.

Why start doing baby mental exercises as you get older? Why not use a better way of organizing information, planning, making decisions, and actively thinking about things around you, your life, or advancing a new intellectual hobby (mine are visual thinking research and great mandolin and ukulele players of the world)?

Use it or lose it.

Many people look at mind maps and think they are pretty pictures or formatted outlines. In fact many so-called “mind mappers” pass off work that is not mind mapping as mind mapping.

One of the most frequently ignored or missed parts of Tony Buzan’s seminal writings on mind mapping is that mind mapping requires active thinking. It is not a passive process of formatting an outline of the same-old, same-old, same-old information.

Mind mapping is really a combination of using the pretty tools in mind mapping programs to facilitate active thinking about something and to develop actively a summary model of how all the thoughts go together.

Do you think active learning through mind mapping is a better way of thinking that for many older adults is new and novel and might be a way to “use it and not lose it?”

I think so. Use it and don’t lose it.

An example. Click on image to expand.

3G Organized Thinking with Mind Maps

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Also see, “Running Away to the Circus”

Also see “Cognitive and Behavioral Tools for Dealing with Cognitive Decline: A #MindMap”

I will be reviewing many of the current crop of free and paid iPad apps found under the search titles Dementia or Alzheimer’s. There are at least 30 of these and I downloaded all I could find. I am also looking at Caregiver apps of which there appear to be about 20. i will be trying to make sense of it all over the next month. Many of the apps appear to be small reworkings of materials whose parentage is questionable while others appear to be innovative and to have research support. As I go through these apps, I urge relevant professional associations to sponsor reviews of these apps by their skilled members. So far as I can see, many of the apps could be helpful to selected groups while may produce no benefit or in the worse case work against established practice standards.

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