A powerful set of tools for journaling are those that create visualizations depicting data, ideas, facts, research, news, evaluations, comments, polls, opinions, feelings, planning, communications, and models of many things. And any other things you can visualize.
Visual data of varying types can be visualized as graphs, diagrams, doodles, models, mind maps, sketchnotes, images, and infographics along with many other types of visual displays.
Visual thinking is underused by those who need to understand and synthesize information for themselves and others. Such methods should be taught and used throughout our educational systems.
If you have not read the Introduction to this series of posts, it is important that you read it before this post. Click here for the Part 00 Introduction. This post is part of a series of more than a dozen posts.
I worked on understanding health and social service programs, especially for the disabled, poor, disenfranchised, and traditionally underserved as a program evaluator for about 25 years. I was very good at it and worked with hundreds of programs spread over most US states.
In writing about my activities to achieve stability in my dementia and maximize my quality of life, I am going to employ the tools of program evaluation to describe what I was trying to achieve, what I did to achieve my goals, why I did various activities, and which parts of my interventions seemed to help me the most. No, not in this post but in a series of more than a dozen posts.
In this post I will start by describing the activities I designed for myself and did throughout my period of diagnosed dementia over six years of living with the disease. In subsequent posts, especially Posts 02 and 03, I will discuss the outcomes of my activities. After that, I will address some of my activities — and especially those that “worked” extremely well for me — and describe them in depth, show how other individuals might use these methods, and how dementia caregiver and healthcare systems might be built around them.
The image below is a mind map. Should you not be familiar with how a mind map is drawn and read, please search this website for posts on mind mapping using the search box. Or, go to the home page by clicking here and look at the list of pre-defined searches.
A very simple set of rules for reading a mind map is as follows.
Start at the center of the diagram. Each of the topics (ideas or major branches) that come out of the center represents an issue. Important information about the main issues is given as a series of branches. The organization is in an outline or tree where large branches divide into smaller branches and smaller branches divide into even smaller branches.
Think of the map as a clock face and start at the 1 o’clock position (upper right corner). Read outward from the center along the branches and sub-branches to see how ideas and information about the topics can be arranged in a hierarchical or tree structure. [If you could go up a huge fire truck ladder and look straight down, you would see a structure of tree branches that looks like a mind map. When we study or read a mind map, we are looking at a whole tree — set of information — and then seeing how small and more specific information spreads from the trunk.]
Go around the map in a counter-clockwise manner (to 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc.), following the branches down to their branches and their branches and finally to twigs. Remember that we are looking down at a whole idea [or tree] and its branches and their branches in order to understand how the information represented on these branches goes together and what the most important information is.
The mind map is thus a picture of major ideas followed by its major subdivisions or branches and sub-branches. The “big ideas” are attached directly to the central issue.
A mind map is a way of showing in an image how a set of data pieces or ideas go together.
The pictures, color coding, and fonts are used to designate what is the most important information in the mind map. When you are trying to remember or organize or determine priorities, the pictures, color coding, and size of the fonts can help you store information in “visual” parts of the brain and then retrieve it by thinking about pictures, the color coding, or size-importance of the information.
Click on the mind map to expand its size and zoom to various portions of the map.
As you can see, I tested app after app after app on my Mac and iPhone to see which could help me. I read all about how to mindmap and draw sketchnotes and I practiced and practiced. I learned to read “dog” and taught my Newfie to understand “people.” I doodled, watched the news, built a highly-rated social media following of more than 140,000 individuals interested in healthcare, dementia, visual thinking, and 100s of other topics from around the world. I went to concerts, watched movies, and cheered for the two local universities with huge sports programs. I engaged some new parts of my brain. I thought in pictures.
I HAD FUN.
I LEARNED MANY NEW THINGS THAT STRETCHED MY BRAIN INTO NEW CHANNELS.
I BUILT COGNITIVE RESERVE.
I THINK I PROVIDED NEW INFORMATION TO PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA AND COGNITIVE DECLINE, CAREGIVERS, HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS, AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT THIS.
I get in trouble when I make mind maps about Donald Trump. This is a mind map about processing repetitive TV cable news (on CNN and MSNBC and FOX) about the most televised story — Donald Tackles the USA and the World — at this point in late April 2017.
Mr Trump is just completing the first 100 days of his Presidency having accomplished less — according to the fact checkers from numerous news organizations — than any President since the index has been tracked from the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidency in the 1930s. Mr Trump believes he has accomplished more than any president ever studied in his first 100 days.
I am a lover of news stories where the President gets bashed on TV. In the 1970s I watched (and read about) all the hearings focusing on Richard Nixon and Watergate. In the 1980s I watched huge amounts of TV about Reagan and Iran-Contragate. In the 1990s, I watched the hearings about Bill Clinton and the blue dress and impeachment and not inhaling. Nothing of a comparable nature occurred during either Bush presidency or that of Barack Obama. I almost didn’t know what to do with my spare time.
Now, I am watching numerous hours of TV/video on the major USA news channels (including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CBS News online, New York Times, Washington Post, and of course the best news outlet for all news worldwide, BBC). And even ESPN has had a big Trump story about star players declining invitations to the White House to meet POTUS.
My dementia has been progressing at an ever increasing speed in a downward spiral during the past months. I remember (recall) less from current events and “work” and daily tasks. When I can retrieve information I do so very S—L—O—W—L—Y. Judgments are tougher, understanding sequences are harder, and writing down what I think is very slow as the length of my current journal entries (and al of the wurds nat spelled wrongly or too bigly) is increasing grately. Handwriting does not come with A spel chkr.
The current trend in cable TV news on MSNBC and CNN and others is to have one-hour shows where a moderator/commentator discusses all of the “important” news of the day with 2-5 different “self-styled” experts ranting from all political persuasions.
7 hours of liberal rantings about Trump is available on MSNBC and to a lesser degree on CNN; Fox News has 7 hours of conservative rantings about how terrible it is that the liberals are ranting about Trump.
I have repeatedly argued that inexpensive (or even free) visual thinking/mind modeling methods can help a person with dementia “rewrite the operating system” on that storage device we call the brain and think better, albeit in a different way.
As I was making the following mind model (AKA mind map) about Trump’s first 100 days yesterday, I was struck by how rapidly I could create this fairly complex model. I think it shows that the intrinsic interests and REPEATED exposures to structured, summary information can be well captured using visual thinking methods by a person who has lived with dementia for more than half a decade after diagnosis. While I understand that 40% of USA voters will find the content WRONG because it is very liberal rather than very conservative, I do propose the hypothesis that developing a fairly complex, fact-based mind map of current news shows the value of mind mapping for someone with dementia basing this conclusion only on my own experience. And it works no matter what you think about Trump.
I hope that as many conservatives as liberals will use these methods to study the facts of issues and their own conclusions and evaluate the completeness of what they know.
Examine your memories and conclusions in mind models. Political leanings and party do not matter because your mind model is for YOU as much as my mind model is for ME.
Should you find my political points to be in error, just use this as a template about what you would like to say about, for example, Hillary Clinton or a Democrat in Congress.
But remember that models like the one can be developed by a person living with dementia like me.
And most importantly, I hope that we — whether your political views are similar or dissimilar to mine — can come to an agreement that cognitive methods for supporting thinking for those with or at risk for dementia belong in the next version of ObamaCare or TrumpCare along with training, support, and respite services for unpaid dementia caregivers and especially COVERAGE OF COMPREHENSIVE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL AMERICANS.
Click on the image to expand it.
Oh … and let’s make sure that no President of any party ever uses the nuclear option. I hope we can all agree on that.
Want information you created or curated to have the greatest impact? Then put it into a mind map. Not a mono-toned mess of straight lines at right angles but curves with colors and an organic style. A mind map utilizing rules that follow what is fairly well known about visual thinking. A mind map like the one below.
NOTE: Version 11 OF iMindMap was released the first week of May 2018. At this time (7-1-18) I have been using the program for about two months. I will have a full review posted within a week or two. As a brief note, Version 11 includes a number of enhancements. The program remains the best one for mind mapping and the updates made from Version 10 to 11 are significant and worth the upgrade price.
I doubt that there are many people expert in mind mapping who would disagree with me that iMindMap is the most feature-laden of the more than 100 programs for mind mapping to be found all over the Internet.
Once a year — as promised when the program was first introduced — iMindMap has a new release that provides many new features and usability enhancements. And unlike others, they produce a great upgrade every year on time. And free from most bugs that live in Cupertino and Redmond.
How good is iMindMap 10?
Click on the mind map (actually mind model in my terminology) below to expand its size. For those of you with no patience or dramatic sense of the big build-up, you can skip directly to the “9” branch. iMindMap is the 8,000-pound gorilla.
As a note, my review was conducted about six weeks after receiving the program and using it exclusively rather than earlier editions. I use a Mac only, and my review was conducted on a 2013 MacBook Pro. I have worked with the program both on an internal 15″ retina MacBook screen and a 27″ external monitor. [I actually like using the MacBook screen rather than the larger desktop monitor.]
Chris Griffiths and his team at OpenGenius have taken the work of Tony Buzan and in the process of developing a program expanded and formalized that conception in a creative way that is brilliant in its overall utility and ease of use. iMindMap 10 is my favorite mind mapping program, but most importantly my favorite and most useful thinking tool. For those of you who do not follow my blog in general, I live with Frontotemporal Dementia and iMindMap has served as a “brain assistance tool” for me since 2010 in daily living and in continuing my professional interests in a creative way. I can accurately say that the various versions of this program “changed my life.”
This is a tool formulated by expensive consultants who want to help corporations make more money while at the same profiting from that help. But the tool has come to greatly exceed the original vision and is intuitive to use and most adults and all children can learn to use the program for free using Internet trainings. Don’t be scared off by all of the publicity about a $3500 training and a certificate signed by a consulting firm (not an accredited educational institution). You do not need a course to learn this program and it is not clear to me that expensive courses help you learn to apply this program in the real world. If you are willing to invest a few hours you can be doing adequate mind maps; if you invest 10-20 hours you can be doing accomplished mind maps.
Get over the hype and realize that you CAN learn this program quickly on your own and even more rapidly if you study examples available without cost at many blogs including this one (Hubaisms.com), a depository of many thousands of mind maps at Biggerplate.com, and many other sites including youtube.com where many training sessions are presented.
While there are four “views” in this program, the primary mind mapping module is the reason for using this program. The other three views are largely alternate ways of looking at the same information and data. While they may be “quicker” ways to collect information together from a lecture or library research, at the end they feed their data into the mind mapping module where the actual thinking work, theory building, model development, and communication is done.
I have a few criticisms of the program, but these criticisms do NOT change my overall rating of the program as A+.
The time map module is really just a Gantt chart of interest to but a few mid-level corporate managers and high level executives who have not yet adopted better ways of team management. As a Gantt chart the module is fine, albeit about the same as most existing software in that area. Unless you are like a friend of mine who manages 10-year projects to send landers to Mars with 10,00 team members, I cannot imagine why you would want to use a Gantt chart.
In my view and that of many other potential users, a “time map” is actually a timeline that incorporates mind map features. While others have tackled this issue (most notably Philippe Packu and Hans Buskes), my formulation was the original. The resulting blog post (click here for a new window) has been the most read one about mind mapping methods on my blog site for FOUR years. I’d urge the iMindMap developers to look at my model of time maps which requires a lot of custom work that I am sure they could easily automate.
For almost all mind map users, the future is using pre-made templates designed by content experts. Purchase a template package and then you can then create your own mind maps by adding your information to the pre-designed expert map for your area whether it be healthcare or project management or writing a term paper or designing a research project or selecting the right clothes for a 5 day business trip. At this time iMindMap does not yet have a way of protecting the intellectual property of template developers which provides little incentive for developing templates as a business and therefore stunts the growth of the mind mapping community.
For this program and all of its competitors, the icon and image libraries are never big enough. On the other hand, you can purchase separate icon and image sets from third-party packagers on the Internet if you have special image needs. iMindMap allows you to use such external pictorial elements extremely easily. My favorite new feature is that you can add icons to their library and size the icons in a custom way. iMindMap’s included images should more fully capture the fact that users of mind maps and their audiences are much more diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, gender-orientation, education, and age than the included image libraries. And hey OpenGenius folks, how about some icons for numbers in colors besides orange and lime so that the color schemes of my mind maps are not destroyed if I number ideas.
More free online trainings would be desirable, and most importantly trainings that do not run at the speed of a bullet train. Two minute presentations that cover 20 minutes of material are somewhat counter-productive. The current videos run too fast for new users and at time for even the most experienced users.
My experience — admittedly infrequent — is that Technical Support is fairly “rigid” in that there are lots of forms to fill out before you get a real chat session going and too many requests to send them esoteric files on your computer. All in all, as technical support goes, while everybody is trying quite hard to be helpful, they ask you to conform more to what is convenient for them than what a confused user can deal with. When I want help or to make a suggestion or make a request for a new feature or default, I want to just compose a short email so OpenGenius can get the right person there in contact with me. I most definitely do not want to complete an overly complicated form. Too much technocracy in that process.
Besides the books of Buzan which are not all that useful for learning the program or how to do real visual thinking in real world applications other than rudimentary management, OpenGenius needs to develop some easier access, very practical books that act as “manuals” and present information in more comprehensive ways than is done now. Old fashioned manuals that are (or can be) printed have a lot of appeal to many.
In summary, this is an amazing program that is much more than a program for mind mapping. It is unsurpassed among mind mapping programs. Additionally it is what I call a “visual thinking environment” or VITHEN. My “criticisms” are minor and do not in anyway diminish my overall evaluation of the quality of the program.
My blog at Hubaisms.com on which you are reading this review was designed and “written” largely in “iMindMap.” Most of the mind maps I use to guide my own “complicated” life were developed in iMindMap.
Exemplary job folks at OpenGenius. Version 10 is an additional large step in the evolution of the program and mind modeling.
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.
Opening your mind to nonlinear thinking may provide a cognitive reserve that helps you as cognitive functions start to decline perhaps precipitously into dementia. Neuroplasticity is a mechanism that the brain will use 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 or 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.
One way that healthcare communication can be made more effective is to supplement or replace traditional pages of small-type textual information with graphic displays such as mind models (AKA mind maps), sketches, graphs, and infographics.
This post focuses on mind models (mind maps). The same general arguments would apply to sketches, graphics, infographics, and other visual information methods designed to promote a more effective patient-oriented healthcare system with more complete, accurate, and easy-to-understand information for all.
If you are not familiar with mind models (mind maps), you should look at the mind map at the bottom of the page first (Footnote).
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.
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.
Apathy is often identified as a key symptom used for diagnostic and other purposes with dementia. Apathy seems to be most often discussed for those types of dementia-causing conditions often associated with young onset.
I believe it is possible to differentiate four types of states that are identified as “apathy.” This differentiation is quite important both for the administration of drugs and behavioral exercises to fight apathy and for planning social interactions and outings for the person with dementia if you are a #caregiver or a #family member.
The following mind map shows and explains four types of apathy that I would differentiate. Click on the diagram to expand it.
Type 1 is what I would call “observer identified apathy.” Caregivers, friends, doctors, and others see an individual who does not smile or seem to react to a positive environment and assume that the person is not experiencing emotion and would like to repeat the experiences often or see the same people again. These observations may have a quite different meanings for different individuals and in fact not represent apathy. For instance, I have little control of my non-verbal expressions (face muscle control and feedback is going, going, gone) and even though I feel happy and engaged you will rarely see a smile and when I try to “force one” for the iPhones, I usually end up making a rather bizarre expression. At social gatherings I often stand by myself just watching. I am neither apathetic nor a “stalker,” rather I often disengage in large groups because I can not selectively attend to individuals or the noise is too much for me to understand what is being said. I am trying to control incoming stimuli not to ignore them. On the fringes or in a quieter space with a small group of individuals I can appear quite engaged.
Try not to over-generalize when looking at a person with dementia and assuming that they are experiencing apathy. Something quite the opposite may be happening. And I may not be ignoring you because I feel apathy or do not like you. You may simply be standing in a noisy, chaotic part of the room.
Type 2 is what I would call “true” or “experienced apathy.” The person with dementia experiences the classic symptoms.
Type 3 apathy is mislabelled depression. Many of the symptoms of depression are also indicators of apathy but the underlying causes of the behaviors may be quite different for apathy and depression. It is important to determine if the person with dementia is actually experiencing depression rather than apathy (or both) as there are medicines available that seem to be able to help control symptoms of depression.
Type 4 apathy is what I would call “deliberate apathy.” When you see me ignoring situations you find enjoyable or engaging or demanding an emotional responsible, it may be assumed that I am experiencing apathy. I might tell you that you are right, I am, but it is because I chose to for this situation. At some point as dementia progresses one may need to make decisions about which activities and people and situations are the most important and should receive as much of the rapidly dwindling supply of mental energy as possible and which should be ignored so that energy can be conserved. These are deliberate decisions that people with dementia may need to make and then adopt as part of their lifestyle. My social circle is smaller because I have had to make choices about where to direct my energy and my “ignoring” someone is not a statement of disliking or lack of concern but rather that I think my family needs my time and energy more than they do. Things I used to think were fun are ones that I may ignore or avoid now not because I fail to think that they are fun but because I have decided that other things are more fun or enjoyable for other reasons and I should invest my limited time and energy into those.
Note that several or all of these types of apathy experience may be going on in a person with dementia at the same time. It is much more complicated than it looks.
The BIG D — currently the most dreaded way to die in the world.
I occasionally get tweets when I write columns on living well with dementia stating that the writer will — if he or she gets dementia in later years — consider committing suicide. At times people imply that I should also.
I regard most of these arguments as emotional masturbation although I also know that some people will go through with such a plan. I feel very sorry for them and wish that we had a better mental health system to deal with their pain and confusion.
You saw your Mom or your Gramps suffer (or at least you thought they were suffering while they were causing work and other problems for you). It scares you, it enrages you that lifetime savings are wiped out and do not pass between generations, it messes up your own relationships with your own nuclear family. You feel powerless and guilty and angry and helpless. And very, very tired.
The BIG D your Dad and Grandmother had are becoming the little d. Treatments are being developed for all types of dementia causing conditions, and you can expect them to be available in the not too distant future of 10-20 years. Behavioral interventions can greatly improve quality of life. Treatment will get less expensive over time (and even less so if we nationalize Big Pharma for the good of the world). Improved housing, professional caregiving, education of healthcare providers to make early identifications of impending dementia, and cost saving measures make it easier and cheaper to have a continuing good quality of life while living with dementia. Yes, I am too advanced to probably benefit much from forthcoming huge changes in dementia care and treatment, but my children and yours will which is something to look forward to.
OK, you are sitting there saying this guy is full of shit. Not really. In 1992 I started two decades of evaluating and helping improve some of the most creative and innovative programs for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention funded by the US government. From 1992-6, I watched literally dozens of my friends and coworkers die of AIDS 20 to 40 years before their life expectancy in an AIDS-free world. In the mid-90s I had dozens of additional friends in their 20s through 40s with HIV/AIDS who had a life expectancy of a few years and a miserable death ahead of them. Then came the medical miracle of antiretroviral drugs. Almost all of the folks I was close to who moved onto the new treatment regimen are alive now 20 years later and living pretty “normal” lives. Many moved from being uneducated street youth to PhDs and program administrators and federal employees and teachers and parents. Yes, parents. And quite good ones. Also, good taxpayers.
The BIG H (HIV/AIDS) was tamed for those who could be identified early and were in countries where antiretroviral drugs could be made available for a reasonable cost within differing levels of national average income. Much more remains to be done to fully tame HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa, a continent ignored by the rich nations. But the tools are there and the money should be. Should the big governments of the world not be willing to make this happen, perhaps the big religions of the world who have amassed reserved of valuable property and cash could use their funds to solve these medical problems.
I have no doubt the BIG D can be tamed like the BIG H and that the same problems with sharing the costs for treatment in the developed and undeveloped world will occur. And I greatly doubt various political factions will want to spend the dollars needed for research and developing treatments and making them universally available along with lifestyle training programs to help prevent certain kinds of dementia.
Stop thinking about suicide if you get dementia and start thinking about electing politicians who know that the horrible diseases of the past and their somewhat milder versions of the present can be tamed far more rapidly if resources are turned into medical research and treatment rather than bombs and trying to control countries with different religions and peoples of different colors than your own. Elect someone who has the guts to take on the aggressive capitalists of Big Pharma and conservative governments.
And do not send me tweets suggesting that you are morally superior to me because you will commit suicide to save society money if you get dementia. I think that is VERY wrong.
The BIG D is going to be a disease that will be solved eventually. And you will have a milder and less lifestyle disrupting version than your grandparents and parents. Speed up the process of making these advancements by fighting to devote resources to the development of the solutions. Emotional masturbation that maybe you will commit suicide in the future to “save society the cost after it is helpless for me” is not doing a damn thing to solve the mysteries of the neurological diseases that cause dementia. Devote the later stages of your life to looking for solutions, not giving in and accepting misery for yourself and your descendents or thinking Donald Trump is going to solve your problems.
Dementia care and treatment is changing for the better in a manner that is far more rapid than the garbage you read about in the news channels on the Internet. On the other hand, the politicians who allocate public monies are being more stoopid about health issues than ever, a fact rarely stated in its full ugliness in the press.
Here is how I see the situation. Click on the mind map to expand it for easier viewing.
And don’t give up. It is not going to be as bad as it was for your grandparents and parents. And you have lots of technologies and treatment innovations to make your quality of life better.
And use the time you gain from the advances in dementia treatment and care to help speed the progression of the work to solve this and all other diseases.
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
In general, mind mapping programs do not export their maps to other formats or seem to export it in a way that seems unnecessarily difficult and at a great loss of the work that went into developing the map in the initial program.
I have never heard this said so bluntly, but let that not stop me from stating the real issues here.
For companies to refuse to promote interoperability of mind maps among their programs (or heaven forbid to develop a common standard file type for mind mapping) makes an assumption that is directly insulting to the user.
That assumption is that you no longer own the rights to your own mind map — specifically to move the ideas easily from program to program — once the map has been worked on in a specific program.
Fortunately Microsoft and Apple got past this nonsense by using easily converted file types that do not lose features between Word and Pages as well as Excel and Numbers. Most other companies make good translations among word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs.
I move files between word processing programs all of the time because it is easier to do specific types of formatting in some than others. Frequently I compose in one program in Markup and bring it into the “high feature programs” for creating camera-ready copy. That is my right. I paid for all copies of the programs I use and the text and earlier formatting is my intellectual property.
If you really think you have the best mind mapping program, the best way to prove it is make it easy to import files from another program AND to make easy to export files. After all, if your program is the best users will quickly find that if they move files in from another program they have much better mind maps. Similarly, if your program is the best users will quickly find that if they move files from your programs the minds are not as good.
The principles are quite simple.
I own the content of my mind map.
I own the cumulative formatting I have done on my mind map whether done in one program or many different ones consecutively.
As a customer I find it offensive that you try to limit my ability to make consecutive formatting changes in different programs by having limited or no exporting of my formatting or by not properly interpreting the formatting done in another program.
This is capitalism at the expense of the customer’s right to change products mid-stream because each has different features the user would like to combine. So long as I pay for legal copies of all the software I use, I should be able to combine the use of any with that of any other program while retaining the work I have already done in another program.
When I started this blog at the end of 2012, one of the first mind maps I presented my values in a coherent way. Of course two years have passed, values evolve, and mind map programs get better as do my skills in using them. When I look back on it, I find it pretty surprising that I was able to put several hundred personally meaningful mind maps on my blog site in only two years. I think that the way that mind maps engaged me over the past two years and (in my humble opinion) allowed me to explore creatively many issues points to the great value of the method of visual thinking.
Here is return visit to a slightly revised, prettier mind map created from that first published two years ago.
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.
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.
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.
This is an old story often repeated as it was typed every few hours by telegraph operators in the 1800s to test the lines. And, everyone learned to type it. The story (sentence) of course was used because it contains every letter of the English language.
[My repeated attempts to come up with a short, single sentence that is hip, cool, trendy, and oh so 21st Century, and contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet has been a failure as of this date. I am working on it.]
At any rate, everyone knows that “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
But, do you know the background research?
The same “research notes” presented in summary or full form can present a sentence or a short story.
[OK, so it wasn’t really a Newfie. However my lazy, sleeping, snoring dog has been practicing for the part for years, so I let her have it. And yes — really, truly — I have had both foxes and coyotes in the front yard of my current house. I guess I could also have said that the fox was rabid (most are) but that would have changed the rating to PG-13.]
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.