Dementia

Checkmating Cognitive Impairment in Seniors

Checkmating Cognitive Impairment

It’s a well-known fact that our population is aging due advances in technology and medicine. The global average life expectancy is close to 80 years. Downside of this increase life expectancy is that it hasn’t been accompanied by an increase in the quality of life. Also, many seniors struggle with depression, loneliness and cognitive impairment.

Seniors are at the greatest risk

Seniors are at the greatest risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Chess being a particularly good brain builder, it reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Besides, studies have shown that playing games like chess, which is a mentally stimulating game keeps seniors cognitively active. Playing chess also increases social interaction with others and thereby reduces loneliness.

Moreover, chess is a fairly easy game to learn and involves cognitive activities such as planning, strategy and analysis which keeps the mind sharp. Playing chess not only actively engages the brain but also improves social and physical wellbeing. Research has shown lower rates dementia in active chess players. Most importantly, there is no signs of dementia among all current chess grandmasters.

Benefits of playing chess

  • Cognitively-challenging activity
  • Provides seniors with a hobby
  • Increased socialization
  • Reduces depression due improved interactions with others
  • Improves emotional health
  • Stimulates all the parts of the brain
  • Lower rates of dementia
  • Improves Creativity
  • Strengthens mental capacity
  • Improves information retention
  • Also improves short-term and long-term memory
  • Uses both sides of the brain

In conclusion, chess seems like a treatment for cognitive impairment that really works. Further reading – A game of chess a day may keep Alzheimer’s at bay – The Hindu

Activities for Seniors who have physical or cognitive limitations – Pallanguzhi

Activities for Seniors who have physical or cognitive limitations – Pallanguzhi

There are activities and fun board games for older adults even if they have physical or cognitive limitations like arthritis or early stages of dementia. It’s more about spending time together, enjoying it and being a part of an activity.

Pallanguzhi (also known as a Cup and Coin Game, Vamanaguntalu, Mancala, Olinda Kaluja, Aliguli Mane, Adu-Guni Mane, Chenne Mane, Saat Kooti, Kutki-Boia) is perfect for seniors to enjoy with family and friends. Although seniors enjoy this game, we must be careful not to overdo it. Look for signs of fatigue and give it a break to keep seniors from getting too tired.

This is played on a wooden board with 14 cups in it, this is a game of distribution and counting. Variations of the game appeal to different ages and make it challenging and exciting.

  • Develops excellent math skills and fine motor skills
  • Helps to build memory
  • Believed to be therapeutic for those with arthritic fingers

Pallankuzhi – Rules of the Game

1. Aim of the game: To capture the most seeds. The Game is played in pairs with each player taking one side of the board.
2. Start: Place five seeds in each cup (Fig 1)

Figure -1
PLAYER-1

Pallankuzhi – Rules of the Game

PLAYER-2
Round 1:
PLAYER 2 lifts the seeds from any cup on his side of the board and distributes one seed in each cup. When the player drops the last seed, s/he takes the seeds from the next cup and continues dropping them around the board including the opponent’s side. (Fig 2)

Pallankuzhi – Rules of the Game
Figure-2

If the last seed falls into a cup with an empty cup beyond, Player 2 collects the seeds next to the empty cup and that ends his turn. (Figs 3 and 4)
Figure-3

Pallankuzhi – Rules of the Game

Figure-4

Pallankuzhi – Rules of the Game

PLAYER-1 plays the same way, starting from any of the cups on his side and goes round the board distributing the seeds in the cups.
If the last seed falls into a cup with two empty cups beyond, he collects no seeds and his turn is over.
3.Winning:
The round is over when a player has no seeds on his side to start his turn. At this point, the winner could be determined based on the number of seeds in the stores. Or else continue playing until one player’s store is exhausted. (Fig 5)

Pallankuzhi – Rules of the Game
Figure-5

Pallanguzhi from Kreeda

Pallanguzhi from Kreeda

While Pallanguzhis were traditionally made of wood, our current need is to conserve forests and trees. The new Pallanguzhi from Kreeda is made from MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard). This is a type of hardboard, which is made from wood fibres glued under heat and pressure. It can be made from almost any scrap wood that is normally of limited value.
So when you buy an environment friendly Pallanguzhi from Kreeda, you are doing your bit toward conserving the environment.

IMPORTANT – KREEDA uses game pieces (small white stone) instead of seeds but the rules of the game remain the same

Where to buy?

We recommend ‘The Old is Gold Store’, speciality Store offering an assortment of products & services exclusive to senior citizens. Apart from the above, you will find several products that make your older adult’s life easier.

6 Great ideas for a dementia-friendly bathroom

6 Great ideas for a dementia-friendly bathroom

Most seniors find the bathroom difficult to navigate, and for elders with dementia, it can be quite a challenge. There are too many things going on in a very limited space; hot & cold water taps, shiny tiles, wet and slippery surfaces, all add to the confusion.  Here are a few ideas to keep your bathroom dementia-friendly.

1. Raised toilet seat

Raised toilet seat

A typical western closet is about 16″ in height.  This is very low for many seniors and they find it very difficult to sit down and get up from the toilet seat independently.  The toilet raiser is an easy solution. It is easy to install and provides additional height.  Made of good grade plastic, the raiser comes with a lid and simple clamps to hold it firmly in place.  Easy to clean, extremely hygienic and comfortable. Usually comes in 3 heights and fits most western closets.

Alternatively, you can opt for a foam toilet raiser that can be fitted on top of an existing toilet seat.  Unlike other toilet raisers, this is softer and hence more friendly on the soft skin of elders.  Provides 4″ elevation that makes it easy to sit down and get up from the western commode.  Has appropriate depression for coccyx (tail bone) relief as well as depression in the front for easy cleaning access. The bright colour also helps seniors with dementia to easy identify the closet. BUY NOW

2. Contrasting toilet seat

Contrasting toilet seat

If you are not opting for a raised toilet seat, consider adding a toilet seat which is bright or contrasting to rest of the fixtures to draw attention to it. This way, seniors with dementia can easily notice it and navigate without any problem.

3. Toilet Safety Frame

3. Toilet Safety Frame

Toilet Safety Frame is a device that can be easily fitted to your existing toilet. It features two handles that make getting up and sitting on the toilet an easier & safer task. Toilet safety frame is versatile and the height adjusting mechanism makes it suitable for all types of toilets. The free-standing frame fits around your toilet seat with back bar in front of your toilet tank. No need to modify your bathroom. Folds for easy storage and portable for travel. BUY NOW

4. Install a bidet

bidet

A bidet is a device that gets attached to your commode and helps one clean oneself without having to use hands.  A bidet is ideal for people who have limited mobility or dexterity in their hands.  Senior citizens who have frozen shoulders, shoulder fractures, strokes, severe arthritis or dementia may find it difficult to wash themselves.

A bidet can help them remain independent and at the same time maintain hygiene.  Most of the bidets sold here require very little plumbing work and no masonry work.  Designed in Japan, the manual bidets require no external power and work entirely based on the water pressure coming from the overhead tank. BUY NOW

5. Install Grab Bars

Grab Bars

Toilet safety aids like grab bars greatly reduce the risk of accidents. Grab bars are not only inexpensive but also easy to install. Grab bars gives elders something sturdy to hold onto while they sit or stand. Bathroom grab bars can also be angled or L-shaped. The most typical sizes for straight grab bars are 12″, 16″, 18″, 24″ and 32″. BUY NOW

6. Label hot and cold faucets

Hot and Cold

This is something basic but will go a long way in helping people with dementia. Clearly label the hot and cold water taps, as shown in the picture.

For more information on exclusive products for seniors – https://www.oldisgoldstore.com/

Long toenails and associated issues

Long toenails and associated issues

Recently I visited an elderly gentleman in his home. After talking to him for a few minutes, I was just taking my leave when I noticed his toenails. They were long and uncut.

I pointed them out to him and requested him to cut them down to size. Apparently he had been wanting to do that for a long time, but because he was unable to bend, he had not gotten around to doing them for a while. He also seemed very reluctant to ask family members for help. I asked him to bring his nail clipper, thinking I would do his toenails. He brought a pair that turned out to be useless against his thick and long toenails.

I am sending across a toenail clipper to him today. Additionally, I am looking for a salon/spa that provides pedicure and grooming services at home for elders. Believe me, it seems to be easier finding grooming services for pets than for the elders. Such is the state of affairs here!

Anyway, coming back to the topic, here are some of the reasons why you should ensure that the elders in your house have their toenails trimmed regularly.

  1. Long toenails can curl up and cut unto the skin.
    2. Thickened toenails can become hard and difficult to cut.
    3. Toenails harbour a lot of bacteria and other harmful germs. If one were to scratch oneself with their toenails, chances of infection are high. These infections can lead to complications and in some cases even septicemia and death.
    4. Long toenails can cause people to trip or stub their toes more often.
    5. They are unsightly.

As they say, a stitch in time saves nine. So arrange a pedicure today.

How to handle a parent who has become, bitter, rude and even more stubborn as they have aged?

DementiaThough this may sound pithy, it is true that old people are like children. And sometimes, the older they get, the more child-like and/or childish they become. While this can be endearing at times, it can also be very frustrating and annoying. Not to mention, difficult to manage.

If you feel that your elder loved one is behaving badly, ask yourself this question.
Is this completely new, surprising behaviour or is this their usual inherent traits getting magnified a bit (or a lot)?

If you feel that there is a sudden and drastic change in the personality of the person, then this could be a symptom of dementia. Seek professional help. Take the loved one to a neurologist and have a proper assessment done.

Dementia is a generic term for decline in mental ability of a person. It is not a specific disease. Alzheimer’s is one of the common forms of dementia among elders. Dementia results in a loss of ability to perform even routine tasks properly and the person suffering from this may become frustrated and angry at their own inability which can then manifest itself in the form of bad behaviour.

If on the other hand, the traits exhibited have always been inherent in the person, except that it is coming to the fore more often and more forcefully, then it could be due to other factors.

In both cases, a lot of patience, tolerance, love and care are needed. Here are few tips for handling such situations:

1.Try and identify the cause(s) for their frustration.

2. Help them in tasks they are having difficulty with.

3. Where possible assist them in finding ways by which they can remain independent, rather than taking up those tasks yourself. For example,

– If they are constantly forgetting things, get them a board on which they can write things they need to remember and allow them to use it to supplement their memory.

-If they are forgetting dates and seasons, get them a big calendar that they can refer to regularly.

-Sometimes they are misplacing things, help declutter their living environment and designate places for the things they misplace. For example, a decorative and distinct keyholder can ensure that they hang all the keys there. A spectacle stand kept within ready reach can help them remember to leave their specs in the same place most of the time.

-If they are getting lost, buy them a wearable GPS tracker. This may not help them but will help you ensure that they don’t wander away and get lost.

If they are abusive or physically threatening, then get them to sit down and explain why such behaviour is disturbing to you and ask them how you can make them happier. If that does not work, you can switch to expressing your displeasure at being abused and take certain actions to ensure that they get the message that you will not tolerate bad behaviour. For example, you can move out of the room saying “I am not going to come back till you calm down and behave properly”. If they get physically violent, get support.

If they are suspicious of you, don’t take it personally. Many times, you are the only person they are interacting with and so you become the easiest target to vent out all their frustration, anger and suspicion. If they are worried about monetary issues, keep their bank passbooks and other asset related papers somewhere close to them, so they can go through them whenever they want and reassure themselves.

Each case is unique. The main thing to remember is that you don’t have to face it all alone. Get help. Talk to your friends and family. Enlist their support. Talk to fellow caregivers. Join a self-help group. Approach NGOs that are working with elders.

Above all, tell yourself that their behaviour is not a reflection of their opinion of you. Don’t let your self-esteem suffer. All the best!

What qualifies someone for hospice?

hospice

Definitions:

Hospice

A home that provides care for the terminally ill.  Cancer patients in their last stages and others who have six months or less to live, benefit from moving into a hospice as the hospice is geared to take care of their needs and ensure comfort and care.

Palliative care:

Palliative care refers to treatment given not towards curing an illness, but towards keeping the patient comfortable and pain free.

Looking after a loved one who is terminally ill is one of the toughest assignments one can have.  Firstly, unless one is a nurse or a doctor, one is not fully qualified for the task at hand.  Secondly, if the loved one is suffering, watching them from close quarters can be really traumatic and both emotionally and physically draining.

Under such circumstances, opting for hospice care may be the best thing one can do, for oneself and for the patient.  A hospice is geared to look after the terminally ill and will be able to keep your loved one as comfortable as possible.  In addition, many times, they will have licenses to procure and prescribe pain killers such as morphine, that are not available to others.  On top of that, this will give you the opportunity to spend quality time with the loved one rather than constantly worrying whether one is doing enough for the loved one.

In India, there are quite a few charitable organizations that run palliative centres.  Most of these however cater to the poor and destitute. They do the best that they can but given that they are charity run and are invariably filled beyond capacity, they may not be suitable for those that are willing to pay for better quality services.

Searching on google for “hospice”, “palliative care”, “terminally ill care” and similar words along with the name of one’s city will give one a quick overview of the available options.

It is important to remember that considering the option of hospice care for a loved one is not an act of abandonment, a sign that one is relinquishing one’s responsibilities or dereliction of duty.

Under such circumstances, it may be the right thing to do for one’s loved one.

Combating Parkinson’s together

A news report in Hindu talks about a new self-help group that is bringing together people with Parkinson’s.  Here is an extract from the report:

Parkinson’s diseaseAt first, Kannan S. thought there was something wrong with his eyes. He would feel exhausted when out in the sunlight, and found that his handwriting had begun to taper. Later, the resident of Nolambur was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement.

“I was put on medication, but I experienced a lot of side effects. And I was depressed. My confidence levels fell,” said the 68-year-old.

What changed this was Parivarthan for Parkinson’s, an Anna Nagar-based community support group for people with Parkinson’s disease and their families. Started about a year ago by Sudha Meiyappan, the group now has about 45 families involved and organises various activities including guest lectures every month, yoga sessions every week and home visits for those who cannot make it to the meetings.

To read the entire article, go here.

(https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/combating-parkinsons-together/article7868738.ece )

A short film to create awareness about Parkinson’s Disease

A lot of people are still not aware of Parkinson’s Disease. Especially here in India, many people just think that the old man (or woman) is simply being obtuse and troublesome on purpose.  In this film, however, a doctor describes the condition in a lucid manner and hopefully this will help more people recognize this condition and approach a doctor for treatment.

Cocoon in the news – ET

Cocoon in the news We were covered by ET yesterday.  An brief extract follows.  The link to the original article is at the end of the post.

For years they watched as dejected seniors and stroke victims reached out to buy ungainly hospital gowns and unshapely nighties, simply because there was nothing else to wear. So a few weeks ago the founders of Old Is Gold Store decided to spin their own brand of Cocoon adaptive clothing for those with limited mobility. “The idea behind Cocoon is as much to comfort as it is to liberate, says Sanjay Dattatri, director of Old is Gold Store, which caters primarily to the needs of senior citizens. “Just because you are unwell does not mean you have to dress down. Wearing good clothes will make anyone in recovery feel better and that’s what we want to do,” he says.

The first line of adaptive clothing from Cocoon was cotton shirts for men and now that it has become a hit Dattatri says they are expanding the line to include kurtis, readymade sarees, Velcro veshtis and dhotis. “All Cocoon clothing uses Velcro instead of buttons or zippers to make them easy to wear,” he adds.

Customers include everyone from the elderly to those on wheelchairs to people recovering from a stroke. “We are among the few stores in India that retails such clothing,” he says.

Dattatri isn’t far off the mark. Despite the demand in India for adaptive clothing, there are hardly any designers or stores in the country that cater to the segment. In Chennai, apart from Old is Gold, those with disabilities say the choice is limited to customising clothes through tailors…

To read more go here.

https://retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/apparel-fashion/apparel/clothes-that-make-the-cut-adaptive-clothing/49788226 )