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.
There are many problems that can plague a person with dementia. Some of these are easily detected but others may be “hidden” because of the nature of the major symptoms of the disease or “hidden” because the person with dementia (or caregiver or in some cases family members) is trying to hide some of the problems from outside observers.
For instance physical, psychological, or financial abuse will be hidden by the abuser and perhaps the person with dementia. Memory loss may make it difficult for the person with dementia to accurately report accidents.
It is important that healthcare providers, caregivers, and family members be trained to identify the hidden problems.
To some degree or another, it is likely that most persons with dementia have some of these hidden problems. For instance, I bump against things all day long, usually because I am rushing around or not paying attention because I am trying to multitask. When asked by a family member or friend where the bruise came from, I have to try to reconstruct where the accident must have happened by thinking through a lot of alternatives for a bruise half-way between my ankle and knee.
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).
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.
Click on image to expand. Estimated time to develop for a NOVICE (me) = 15 minutes. The sketchnote was drawn by a person with dementia (me).
[Note. I usually write/draw note panels like this from right to left in sections because I am left-handed and it minimizes the amount of smeared ink. There is no magic in this, so use any organization that works for you.]
First, persons with dementia can have extremely enjoyable days even though they get tired, cranky, forget stuff, and sometimes act weird unless family and friends help.
Second, mind maps are a really good way to document a special day. [Note: My version of the mind map has family pictures and names which I have omitted from this version.] Click the image to expand its size.
Oh, and yes to enjoy the day I had to take a 90 minute nap in the morning after taking my medications which cause a headache of epic proportions every day in order to sleep through the pain.
Oh, and yes to enjoy the evening I had to take a 2 hour nap in the late afternoon as the game was to be broadcast from 9 pm until 11 pm.
The periodic longish naps have a way of leveling out some of the difficult behaviors that are exacerbated by being tired and even more rigid than usual.
Naps help make it possible to have days of living very well and especially well with dementia.
Have dementia? So do I. You and I and others can use Twitter responsibly to provide information and observations and comments to millions of others, any one of whom might use that information to make a difference in treatment systems, the development of pharmaceuticals, priorities for the use of tax dollars, or the care of a family member.
Pssstttt… these techniques are for anyone advocating for just about any social issue. Pick a good topic you know something about and become a One Person Advocacy Organization.
Living with dementia is all about improving quality of life (QOL). Treatments to fix up your brain are still in development. They will not happen in my lifetime. But, as I always suggest in this blog, there are some ways of using simple cognitive and behavioral methods that may make your life (and that of your family) more pleasant. When you have dementia, a better day is priceless.
There are several products on the Apple app store for iPhones and iPads that claim to promote electronic communications among patients, family members, and paid caregivers. In reviewing many, I found them — as a group — to be somewhat expensive and typically fairly difficult to use (by me, a member of the patient target group with a PhD and 25+ years of software development experience).
I have carried an iPhone and iPad with me almost continually for the past 10 years. I have always considered the voice control app Siri to be something of a “bar toy” that you can ask questions like “who won the 1923 World Series?” or “what is the dollar-euro exchange rate?” My judgment had been drawn based on the earliest versions of Siri that had significant problems in voice recognition and returned “interesting if bizarre” information in response to questions.
Then recently I watched a teen sit with her iPhone and take notes, schedule, get smart answers, and generally zip through her homework. She did not seem to be doing anything “special” to enable the phone to interpret her voice. And she got terrific and accurate translation of her spoken words into written words using Siri.
Well … I decided it was time to start acting “cool” and flexible again and seem like I was having a conversation with my friend Siri. I started to talk to Siri and “her/him/it” and tell it to take written notes. I experimented with several Apple devices and found that multiple individuals (and devices) linked on the same account can easily share notes.
Free. Nothing special required. Easy. Doing a little research, I concluded that the transcription and note taking function now work far better than ever before due to enhancements in Siri, but more importantly because of recent upgrades in the Notes app included in iOS.
There is huge potential here for Persons with Dementia to take notes for themselves easily and simply by speaking into an iPhone they carry everywhere. And for caregivers and family members to leave notes for a Person with Dementia. Or to check the PWD’s notes to see what is going on. No lost notes and I bet that many people are likely to carry their phone everywhere than to carry a pencil and notepad.
If you and Mom (or Dad or your aging friends) carry iPhones, you can easily set up a system where notes can be shared in a couple of minutes.
Comments: 1. Apple is reliably rumored to be releasing Siri for the Mac in June 2016. 2. At this time I only recommend sharing notes, not calendars. Calendars are confusing. 3. Siri also runs on the Apple Watch. Hopefully well enough to also share notes. 4. Donald Trump is reportedly suing to change the name Siri because he does not want Syrians in the US (OK, so I couldn’t resist).
The mind map below organizes the basic information about this system and provides additional details.
The slide presentation breaks the mind map into pieces. It will run automatically or you can push the pause button and then use the arrow keys to move through the presentation manually.
Siri, take a note. Get started making electronic notes with Siri many times per day.
You can change voices for Siri [male/female and in the US Version Americanish, UKish, or Australish] easily. I prefer the female British voice (the American female version is too common, the Australian female version is too upbeat and hard to follow, and I do not want a male butler or a bossy service representative voice). Mary Poppins is quite helpful, friendly, and at times scolds you. I need a nanny.
By the way, ask Siri to take a note and say this word. It will spell it correctly.
If you use Siri, you can also find out the answer to the “argument” (discussion) you having with your caregiver about how much money Lionel Messi makes in dollars, euros, pounds, or yen.
Sorry folks. I do not use PCs anymore after 30 years of frustration and bugs or Android devices so if you do not use Apple products you are going to need to explore this area on your own.
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.
4 Custom Styles I Use in My Own Work and 4 Variations on the Same 3D Mind Map
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are becoming cognitively impaired or transitioning into full blown dementia, mind maps MIGHT be useful for you to communicate, think, and remember.
Many different sources can help you prepare maps and use them to communicate with you. Or, you can make them for yourself and to inform others. For instance, I usually take a mind map along when I have a routine medical appointment. All of the doctors I have used them with has commented that the maps are a very easy and thorough way to understand what has been going over 3-, 6-, or 12-months. Probably quite useful for those with cognitive impairment/demential or those visiting a doctor for an infection, skin examination, or just a regular physical exam.
Back in 2012, I published a mind map on this blog suggesting that giving people one chance to learn (as in, you only get one taxpayer-subsidized educational opportunity) or to receive free treatment for drug abuse (as in, if you can’t quit the first time you are morally undeserving because you do not have the moral strength) or to receive specialized behaviorally-related healthcare (as in, you let yourself get fat or nicotine-dependent or out-of-shape so you pay the consequences) is an obscene abuse of other individuals,
It’s just as true now as it was then. I know more about mind mapping now and am even more irritated by those who want to balance the budget by not helping others enough, or even at all. So I thought I would revise my mind map and make this a post a lot more angry that we do not give people second (or even eighteenth chances).
Show me a drug abuse treatment provider who says you can go through treatment one time and it will “stick” and I’ll show you a snake oil salesperson who is trying to sell services to 18 year old entertainment industry billionaires surrounded by a media feeding frenzy. Do you really want to deny additional free education to someone who realizes in their 30s or after going to prison or after achieving a stabilized life without drugs or while serving our country in the Armed Services that they need more education to get good jobs and be successful and much better citizens? Mental health services should not be denied or limited to tossing people pills because someone lost the genetic lottery and has a life-time disease or experienced trauma (like a rape victim or maybe somebody unlucky enough to have lived in an earthquake or hurricane zone or in a dangerous neighborhood or in an Armed Services encampment in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietmam).
Enough said. The picture will tell more than 100,000 words ever could. And if one fails after 18 chances?
Well, there’s always a 19th chance or a 36th chance waiting. [And a special ring in hell waiting for those who would only offer people one chance at happiness or productivity or health. Or the politicians who supported this position to get (re)elected.] Oh, and if you were one who denied others a second chance, you have a second chance to act in a more moral and supportive way and give others that second or 18th chance.
Click on the image to expand. Then think about whether we should invest in people and families or in creating the wealthiest uber-class in the history of the United States?
Just seeing this set of pictures and the brief comments will probably elicit a large number associations and feelings you have about each of these public figures. The pictures make the associations strong and emotional.
I also expect that today’s Boomer Generation will have a very broad range of reactions to these stimuli for extracting memories. I certainly find the memories flooding back as I look at this map.
I believe that picture mind maps are very powerful tools for helping people recall memories from throughout their lives. Many maps of this type might be quite useful to those experiencing cognitive impairment or early-mid stages of dementia. The pictures can be associated with many events in a lifetime, most of which have nothing at all to do with the president’s smoking behaviors. [And yup, in addition to claiming “I did not have sex with that woman,” Bill also claimed he did not inhale [marijuana].)