New Help For Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Caregivers

Alzheimer’s disease is one of society’s most devastating diseases, not only because of what it does to the Alzheimer’s sufferer but as much because of the toll it takes on the caregiver. For this reason Alzheimer’s care has become a growing priority in America.

While medical science searches for a cure and a preventative, the search is underway to develop therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s care that can slow the progress of the dementia or can bring relief to patients and Alzheimer’s caregivers alike. In recent years, memory stimulation has been discovered to slow the progress of dementia in Alzheimer’s patients as well as other forms of progressive dementia. Studies have found that by exercising the memory of the Alzheimer’s patient, one can successfully slow the progress of the dementia. This has led to the suggestion that family members create what is termed a “memory repository” which can be used to help stimulate and exercise the portions of the brain that deal with memory. Memory repositories, simply put, are external artifacts which can trigger the memory of a patient. These can be in the form of photo journals, scrapbooks or DVDs or any practical method for displaying these memory triggers.

In commenting on this area of study, the Mayo Clinic said, “Your life is like a tapestry, woven from your memories of people and events. Some threads are dark, while others are bright. Your individual tapestry shines vividly in your mind, reminding you of who you are, where you’ve been and what you’ve done.

“Alzheimer’s disease gradually robs people of the memories that make up their tapestries. You can help mend these holes by creating a tangible repository of memories – in a scrapbook, videotape or audiotape.

“Caregivers become the memory for their loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Glenn Smith, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “By gathering memories, you can bring important events and experiences from your loved one’s past into the present. You’re the link to his or her life history.”*

The need to create more practical and supportive way to provide mental stimulation has resulted in a new market and the development of new products to fill that need. New table top and hand held puzzles and other toys have been created and existing toys that once entertained young children, like clear plastic containers filled with water and colored oil that flows through a partition like an hourglass have been updated to be more appropriate for this new market. Each one either provides stimulation for the mind or the hands.

Another new line of innovate products are found in therapeutic quilts. One such product, the “touch quilt” is created out of a variety of various cloths, each with a highly distinct texture. Textures such as like corduroy, flannel or terrycloth can engage the nervous hands of an Alzheimer’s sufferer and calm him/her. At the same time the quilt itself can provide warmth and comfort to the patient. Cold extremities are common among even the healthiest of seniors, the result of a natural reduction in circulation.

A recent development in therapeutic quilts is the “fidget quilt.” A fidget quilt is smaller than a “touch quilt”, usually around 20″ square, and is particularly useful for Alzheimer’s patients who exhibit greater nervous tension in their hands. The fidget quilt is adorned with a variety of buttons, zippers and other items designed to hold the attention of the Alzheimer’s patient and can provide hours of tactile entertainment while adding the natural comfort that comes from a good quality of flannel or other soft cloth. Many experienced Alzheimer’s caregivers swear by the effectiveness of the fidget quilt.

The therapeutic photo memory quilt is yet another recent development which is receiving raves reviews throughout the industry. Although there are no universal templates for a therapeutic photo memory quilt, the most effective therapeutically designed photo memory quilts have large photos for easy viewing and the photos are labeled to not only further trigger the memories in early stage Alzheimer’s patients, but also to facilitate interaction with professional caregivers who aren’t familiar with the patients family. It’s this conversation that significantly enhances the effectiveness of the photos which have been printed into the fabric.

The natural advantage of the therapeutic photo memory quilt over a scrapbook is that it can provide the opportunity of continuous stimulation while resting on the patients lap or on their bed and caregivers can utilize the quilt during casual contact with the patient whereas the scrapbook has to be brought to the patient and requires the active participation of the caregiver during its use. Nor does the scrapbook doesn’t offer the opportunity for casual use by caregivers during routine interactions.

The therapeutic photo memory quilt can be particularly helpful outside the home in an assisted care facility where the Alzheimer’s care givers don’t usually have the time to bring out a scrapbook, lack knowledge of the history of the patients but interact with the patient many times a day in the normal course of their duties. Each encounter becomes an opportunity to stimulate the memory by directing the patient’s attention to a photo, identifying the picture and asking the patient a question about it.

While the new toys and puzzles can be substituted with recycled children’s varieties, the adult versions are usually more ergonomically suited and can be purchased at various websites on the internet. Touch quilts and fidget quilts can be crafted at home and in some limited cases, volunteer groups might be found stitching them as a charity project. Some skilled quilt makers also make different forms of memory quilts for their loved ones which can be adapted for Alzheimer’s patients as well.

*Reference: Mayo Clinic article titled “Alzheimer’s: Mementos help preserve memories.

Additionally Patchwork Memory Quilts [http://www.patchworkmemoryquilts.com] has developed a complete line of therapeutic quilts including the touch quilt, the fidget quilt and their own version of the therapeutic photo memory quilt.

Useful Ways for Fidgety Kids to Release Energy

Many kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) think and learn better when they are humming, tapping, or moving. But, there are plenty of ingenious ways to get the kids to use excess energy without distracting those around them. Here a few solutions to help kids release energy at home:

Fidget objects

The fidget objects are a simple, yet effective solution to help with most types of attention disorder issues. They are simply objects that are quietly handled or squished, such as squeeze balls, stress cubes, ball bearing toys and worry beads. Fidget objects make it easier to focus on activities. It can be useful to attach a squeeze ball or similar toy to a table to stop it being thrown across the room. Additionally, these objects are useful for adults with the ability to assist with issues like leg shaking, or to quit smoking or nail-biting.

Physical activity

A great way to help a child use excess energy is to encourage them to engage in a regular physical activity or join a sports team. But it is important to choose the sport carefully. For instance, the kids with ADHD are not a suitable choice for every type of sport. A useful team sport is soccer with plenty of running around, while baseball is less appealing because there is a lot more standing around.

In addition to the group activities, the kids should also be allowed to exercise alone. Simple activities include a short run around the block or roller skating in the morning. Also, a marital arts like karate is a useful choice for kids because it helps to teach concentration and discipline, while also encouraging a lot of movement.

Take a quick break

It rarely benefits to force kids to sit still for long periods. It can help to give the kids a quick break from attempting to control their wish to move around. Let them play and run around for a while and then rejoin you after using up their excess energy. This type of strategy is great in a wide range of situations, such as sports events, at church, or anywhere that kids are asked to stay still for a while.

Give supervision as needed

Many kids with attention disorder issues benefit from ongoing supervision from a parent or other adult to stay on task. But with an increase in maturity over time, the supervision can become less frequent to match the progress. This means there is less need to constantly monitor a particular activity.

Discover more about the many different fidget spinners and other toys for kids learning.

5 Therapeutic Benefits of Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners can provide a wide range of therapeutic benefits to kids and adults who are anxious, hyperactive, nervous, or antsy. They are a simple, yet effective solution to get a child to focus when it comes to thinking, talking, or listening in a learning environment. This type of toy can feature in a variety of shapes, such as paper clips, beaded bracelets, or realistic looking pencils and pens. For adults, a worry stone or similar can make a useful option to help with stressful situations.

Here are a few of the therapeutic benefits:

Nervous energy – the fidget spinners are a simple, yet effective solution to help expel built up nervous energy. They are useful to give the hands something constructive to do, and cuts back on nervous actions like tapping, pacing, biting nails and mindless snacking.

Anxiety – this type of toy is very effective at taking away the anxiety that results from having a test, conversation, or similar and instead directs the issues of discomfort to the spinner.

Restore control – use the spinners to help with restoring control to a child or adult. It can be difficult to have complete control in a high pressure situation such as social events or tests. The fidget spinners are highly effective at restoring a certain amount of control to make sure the individual doesn’t feel out of control. This is a great technique to avoid issues with anxiety and helps to provide more security and confidence.

Visual stimulation – a further practical use of the fidget spinners is the ability to provide a soothing influence when it comes to visual stimulation. Most of the toys are designed to move or rotate in a predictable pattern. The regular speed and direction of the toy is believed to be calming to the eyes. The reliable and predictable objects are a great way to find security and feel more in control of a situation.

Initiate conversation – fidget spinners come in many different colors, shapes and sizes which can help to strike up a conversation, especially for the curious kids that will want to find out more about them.

Who benefits from using them?

This is a great object for individuals of all ages. Instead of being seen as a fun play toy, they are most suited to people with conditions related to social anxiety, difficulty with focusing, behavioral problems, sensory processing disorders, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and anxiety.

5 Types of Fidgets for Children With ADHD

The fidget toys are great for a variety of reasons. One of the major reasons is to help children with ADHD focus better. They are designed to match the different sensory needs, such as the calming or tactile toys. Here are five types of fidget toys:

Calming

A common issue with children that have ADHD is not being able to settle. This means they are less able to stay focused on something that is taking place in front of them. Fidget toys of this nature are intended to mold, twist or bend into different shapes. Other items that can be a calming influence include a weighted lap pad, a coiled bracelet, plastic nuts and bolts, or a fuzzy pipe cleaner.

Alerting

Many children with ADHD benefit from handling something that has a light, color, or noise to help with staying focused. A great toy to give the desired stimulation includes colored puzzles that easily snap together, pull apart, bend or twist. Other options include the color-changing light-up balls and spinning tops.

This type of toy may be a bit disruptive for the classroom environment, so its use may be limited to time in the home. It is certain to help a child stay focused while listening to an audio book or similar activity.

Chewy

The chewy style of toy can help overcome chewing or biting related issues. They are made in safe FDA-approved materials that are free from BPA, lead, phthalates and heavy metals. This is a great way to keep the mouth occupied while still being quite socially appropriate when outside the home. It stops inappropriate chewing that can lead to biting or sucking on fingers, hair, sleeves, nails, or a pencil. Other options include using chewable distractions like silicone jewelry or pencil toppers. Also, the use of gum is the less embarrassing option for the older child or adult.

Resistance

The resistance type of toy is great for the children that are more able to focus when their hands are kept busy. A simple solution for this is therapeutic putty. This is a great toy for squeezing, pulling or pushing. Other objects of this type include magnetic balls, squishy toys, stress balls, and kneaded erasers.

Tactile

A further type of toy to help with ADHD is the tactile toys. They are useful for the children that need to be touching something to be able to focus. They have different textures and vary from scratchy, slimy, gooey and sticky. Other options include Velcro strips, rubbery squeeze, kinetic sand, and play foam.