3 Steps to Take Now to Prevent Dementia
To combat the loneliness of Alzheimer's and dementia, innovative programs are bringing patients and caregivers out of the house and into the community.
Memory Cafés are meet-ups that can be held in coffee shops or any accessible space. They're a way for people to talk about living with dementia—or simply shoot the breeze, says Lori La Bey, founder of the advocacy organization Alzheimer's Speaks. Search for a café near you at memorycafedirectory.com; also ask about support groups at senior centers.
When the Giving Voice Chorus in Minneapolis performs its semiannual shows, audience members can't tell who has dementia and who's a care partner, says cofounder Mary Lenard. That's because music memory isn't affected by Alzheimer's, says Rudolph Tanzi, PhD; it may even stimulate short-term recall. Learn more about choral groups at givingvoicechorus.org. Or join a jam session like the Fifth Dementia Band in L.A.; check musicmendsminds.org.
At New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, people with Alzheimer's and dementia and their care partners are invited to view and discuss works of art with a trained educator or, if they're inspired and able, participate in hands-on classes. Art can help people be in the moment, says Rebecca McGinnis, senior managing educator for accessibility at the Met. Contact nearby museums and your local Alzheimer's Association chapter to ask about similar programs.
Writing to Remember
Journaling gives patients a sense of accomplishment and also creates a record of their thoughts. Even when writing becomes challenging, they may still appreciate the spoken word. "You can connect with people, even when they're suffering from late-stage dementia, by gently moving their hand to the rhythm of a poem," says Gary Glazner, author of Dementia Arts: Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care. Inquire about writing programs at local senior centers.
— Andrea Atkins
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