Puzzles to Remember
AAGP members in the news: Max Wallack
"AAGP's youngest member, Boston University student Max Wallack, was recently featured in an article on BU Today, the university's website. In "A 16-Year-Old Takes on a Disease of the Elderly," Wallack's work at the Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry in Aging at BU's Alzheimer's Disease Center is featured. In March, Wallack presented a poster at the AAGP 2013 Annual Meeting on the role CE inhibitors could play in preventing Alzheimer’s disease."
To see a 3-minute video about Max's efforts on behalf of Alzheimer's patients, click here.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Posted by Max Wallack at 2:04 PM
Thursday, April 25, 2013
By Max Wallack
Puzzles to Remember
The University City Older Adult Center, in San Diego, offers a great day program for older adults. These adults have the opportunity to meet new friends and enjoy good conversations in a friendly environment.
Here are some of the benefits of this program:
Professional, caring staff
Social, educational, and recreational programs
Nutritionally-balanced kosher lunch
Excellent exercise classes
Sing-a-longs, dances, and live entertainment
Four hours of meaningful and enriching activities for older adults
Appropriate for older adults with early stages of dementia and Alzheimer's
This program operates, at a reasonable fee, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm.
PuzzlesToRemember recently supplied two of the Springbok PuzzlesToRemember to this program.
Here is the reaction from their activity director:
"The puzzles are terrific, the size, colors, and themes are extraordinary."
Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a picture of a gentleman whose reaction says it all:
Posted by Max Wallack at 8:01 PM
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The benefits of aerobic activities for those with Alzheimer’s has been accepted for some time. Improving oxygen flow to the brain is good for us all.
Bob DeMarco, editor of the AlzheimersReadingRoom, has told us many times how much more alert and “more there” Dotty, his mom, was each time she emerged from the gym, even though Dotty had never gone to the gym until her late 80’s.
A new research article (Li et Al, 2013) is showing that, perhaps, Dotty improved so greatly from her trips to the gym were not despite the fact that she didn't start until her late 80’s, but because of that fact.
In this study, scientists who were already providing wild mice with a running wheel for exercise, decided to add a novel toy or object to explore to their cage each day. The results were amazing. While the mice doing aerobic exercise were less impaired when injected with amyloid beta from Alzheimer’s patients, those mice who were given the novel toys each day were significantly less impaired than those with the aerobic exercise alone.
Could it be that the novelty of going to the gym every day had a significant effect upon Dotty, above and beyond the exercise factor?
It looks like that is a very real possibility. We all know and have accepted the fact that following a familiar routine is best for those with Alzheimer’s disease. However, research shows that it is also important to add something novel to the daily routine.
Dotty’s trips to the Banana Boat were even more than getting into the bright light and socializing with those she knew. Meeting new people may have also been very good for her.
Now, I think back to our many trips with Great Grams. We took her everywhere with us. It was as if we continued to live our lives normally and included her, even when she was greatly impaired. I never really considered the fact that our trip to Hawaii, where she was amazed seeing, for the first time in her life, pineapples and bananas growing, may actually have slowed down her disease a bit. Perhaps my own life, bringing her along to weekly taekwondo sessions, provided beneficial novel experiences for her.
In the research paper, it states that “environmental enrichment” stimulates the hippocampus, the same area that is most impaired by Alzheimer’s disease. This meshes well with my convictions that puzzles of various kinds can be therapeutic.
So, along with a predictable, daily, comfortingly familiar schedule, we should also try to work in at least one novel experience daily. It can be a puzzle, a trip, a new story, coloring, or painting. It doesn't matter. What matters is the new experiences. And, of course, adding it to an aerobic activity reaps the most benefits.
Have your worked aerobic exercise into your daily caregiving routine? How about "environmental enrichment"?
What are you doing that seems to make the person living with dementia "more there", or happier?
Please tell us about it.
PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.
Posted by Max Wallack at 4:04 PM
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By Max Wallack
Puzzles to Remember
The last month has been very busy for PuzzlesToRemember. Springbok’s PuzzlesToRemember, specialized puzzles for those with Alzheimer’s, have been sent out to 21 Memory Cafes, 30 Alzheimer’s units, and 3 Adult Day Care Centers. In addition, new and gently used puzzles have been supplied to 31 nursing facilities around the globe, from France to the United States to Canada.
Many wonderful notes of appreciation were received.
From the Orchard House in Connecticut:
“Please know that your support will make it possible for us to provide social interaction for elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s from our area.”
From Willow Brook in Arkansas:
“Thank you so much for the puzzle donation! Our residents in the SCU love them! They really work and complete the puzzles because of the large puzzle pieces. Thanks again.)
From Bright Horizons in New York:
“I wish to express my sincere thanks for your donation of puzzles to our programs. They will be used and enjoyed by our many members, and your generosity is greatly appreciated.”
I also have been fortunate to be in touch with Gaby from Monterrey, Mexico. At Gaby’s suggestion, I will sending Springbok PuzzlesToRemember, and Gaby will distribute them to Alzheimer’s facilities in Mexico. Gaby really understands the value of puzzles. In addition to supplying puzzles to Alzeheimer's facilities, Gaby says,
“Once or twice a week some of my neighbors (children) come to my house to play with puzzles. (See attached photos.) I knew puzzles help to stimulate minds. And I wanted to help them to improve their grades and abilities having fun.”
Additionally, this month I was contacted by over a dozen individuals, whom I helped find locations in their area to which they could bring their gently used puzzles.
I am amazed that, just this month, I have been able to supply more puzzles than I did during the whole first year of PuzzlesToRemember!
Springbok and I have been consulting about the development of additional Alzheimer’s puzzles. In particular, many people have been requesting that we develop more images that would be appealing to men.
I also had the opportunity to give a research poster presentation at the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s annual meeting in Los Angeles. It was a great experience, and I learned a great deal.
Posted by Max Wallack at 1:29 PM