Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dementia (Cognitive Impairment)

Our Presenter - Kathy Fruck
I was most fortunate to attend an interesting talk and demonstration by a Registered Nurse who is a Case Manager at one of our local hospitals.

Kathy Fruck brought some valuable information in her talk.  Her relaxed and friendly manner enabled those present to enjoy her presentation.

Kathy trained at Ryerson University in Toronto and graduated in 1993 and took further training to be able to work with seniors as that is her passion in life.

She started off her presentation asking for an volunteer from the audience and one of the ladies stepped forward.

The volunteer was asked to put on spectacles which had something smeered on it so she could not see properly, large yellow earphones to block her hearing, popcorn in shoes to show how arthritis affects the feet as well as to don latex gloves at which point the presenter put a sort of bandage on her finger to reflect arthritis in them.

The volunteer was a very good choice as she hammed it up abit which made it most entertaining.

The first task for the volunteer was to put on a sweater with buttons wearing those latex gloves.  As you can imagine, using gloves to button up a sweater with small buttons is no easy task.

The second task was to pick up a glass with the latex gloves on and drink from it.

The third was to brush teeth with a toothbrush but with the latex gloves on as well.

The fourth was writing a sentence with the gloves on, then putting it in an envelope.  This proved more difficult than one would expect.

The volunteer felt anxious to get it right as I am sure all of us would be.

After this skit, Kathy opened up her topic of Dementia and asked what the audience could tell her about the symptoms.  There were a number of good suggestions.

Kathy stated that research has shown that early diagnosis is best as the condition can be slowed down somewhat.  Doctors will do cognative tests when the patient goes to him/her.

She did several exercises which doctor may use to test for dementia.    Brain fitness is something that is important, and people need to practice exercises to keep their brain fit.

Procedural Memory: -   One should practice skills one uses normally in life, such as brushing teeth.

Remote Memory: -   Memories from former times.  She suggested looking at all photos and reminise with other older people about that time period.

Working Memory: - Stress can definitely cause the working memory to have problems.  An example may be forgetting who has called, forgetting appointments etc. etc.

Episodic Memory: -   She suggested that people should keep a diary and refer back to it when needed to refresh ones memory.

Helpful Foods and ideas:

Fish, nuts, Canola oil, blueberries, green leafy vegetables, brocoli and cauliflour are some of the helpful foods that will help people.  She mentioned that any of the heart smart foods will also help people with memory issues. 

Another idea on how to keep the brain active is to join a club, learn a new language and sleep well!  A sedentary lifestyle is not good for memory.

Drink one glass of red wine a day.  If one does not touch alcohol, then drink grape juice instead.

Drink tea such as green tea or black tea.  This helps keep plaque under control.

Spices - Indian type of spices are helpful such as Tumeric and curry.

An aspiran a day also helps as well.  81 mg is okay. 

One very important point she brought up was to be socially active.

She briefly touched on caregivers and their 24 hour a day job.  A suggestion she made was to call them up and ask what you can get them at the grocery store when you are going.  She observed that many caregivers are the spouses and they too are very elderly. 

CCAC can also help.  One can self-refer.  This is important to know as one does not need a doctor or social worker to ask for help.  The earlier  help is requested, the better the disease can be managed.

Here are a few of the warning signs of Dementia: 

.  Memory loss that affects day to day function
.  Difficulty performing familiar tasks
.  Poor or decreased judgement
.  Problems with language
.  Disorientation to time and place
.  Misplacing things
. Changes in mood and behaviour or personality
.  Loss of initiative.

There is hope out there.  Contact the following for help in the Hamilton area.

 Your own Family Doctor
Hamilton Community Care Access Centre



Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton



Community Information Services

905-528-0104       search using "dementia"


Hamilton Dementia Care Network


Support services also include Adult Day Programs and Seniors Programe.

***Please note that the above list is taken from a handout at the talk.

Thank you for reading this blog.  I hope that it will be helpful.  This article is not meant in any way to be a substitute for expert medical advice but is rather a recapturing of an excellent talk given by an excellent presenter.

1 comment:

Kate's Blog said...

What an excellent job you did writing about my talk on memory loss. You really pay good attention. I give you an A plus for retention and recall of information. I can see your memory is very sharp!! Thanks posting this on your blog. Can I link it to my blog? Kathy Fruck, RN, BAAN, GNC(C), Case Manager