Tag Archives: alzheimer’s treatment

High-tech invention helping those with dementia reconnect with memories

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It only took 25 hours without power post-Hurricane Irma to realize how much we rely upon technology to manage our daily lives. It’s difficult for me to imagine life without the internet, because of its ability to supply endless amounts of knowledge and connect me to people with similar interests around the world. At the same time, I’ve had multiple people who I consider to be tech-savvy who have asked me about paperback editions of my book, because they prefer the feel of a print book versus the digital format.

I understand that preference, as well as the benefits and consequences of living in a digitally-driven world. One often-heard criticism is that technology can divide us, and make us more isolated. And while that can be true, a researcher has utilized a popular program from tech giant Google to develop a tool that can help bring those with dementia closer to the memories of their past.

BikeAround features a stationary bike placed in front of a screen. In tests of the prototype by Swedish engineer Anne-Christine Hertz, those with dementia are asked about where they grew up. Google Street View is used to create a “virtual ride down memory lane.” The theory is that the physical stimulation from pedaling helps stimulate the brain as well, helping those with memory loss recall details of their past more readily. You can see it in action below, I found the video very moving.

It was powerful to see this invention in action. We know that many people with dementia can recall the past, particularly their childhoods, better than they can the present, but the amount of details the man could remember was remarkable.  I would like to see this or similar devices placed in memory care centers and memory cafes.

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Filed under Awareness & Activism, Memories

Do “Super Agers” hold key to dementia treatment?

I was fascinated to read news about the current research on “super agers,” elderly people in their 80s and 90s who have maintained a sharp mind and exceptional memory for their advanced age. After analyzing brain scans from these unique individuals, researchers found less brain plaque and more brain mass in critical areas related to memory and attention. By studying the minds of those who have beaten the odds when it comes to their mental status, scientists hope to be able to protect others from developing dementia.

Super agers are more energetic and maintain positive attitudes.

Super agers are more energetic and maintain positive attitudes.

While very few people meet the stringent requirements to be in this select group, the super agers seem to be from all walks of life. However, they do have a couple of things in common: they have more physical energy and they have a more positive attitude than others their age.

It’s heartwarming to read about these seniors who are still finding so much joy in life and are active in their communities. While modern medicine has allowed us to extend our life spans to a certain extent, the growing rate of Alzheimer’s makes that definitely a mixed blessing. But if more of us could end up like these super agers, I think we wouldn’t dread the thought of old age so much.

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Filed under Awareness & Activism