So the challenge to caregivers, whether a family caregiver or health care worker, is to find appropriate dementia activities. However, the caregiver may not know what to provide or how to carry it out. It may end up last on the list of caregiving duties, and may not routinely happen. Or, a child’s game or toy may be used, as the best fit they can find – with guilt on the part of the provider for providing a child’s toy to an adult. MindStart was started to meet these challenges and make a difference in the lives of persons with dementia and their caregivers.
MindStart activity products were designed by occupational therapist, Monica Heltemes, based on her knowledge of research theories of cognitive processing and expertise with working with persons with dementia and their caregivers. The Theory of Retrogenesis, by Dr. Barry Reisberg , Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Fisher Alzheimer’s Disease Program, defines the loss of life skills and memory as running parallel to the gain of life skills and memory in infants and children. So indeed, a child’s toy that was designed to meet the developmental stage of a child, may work with a person with dementia. However, the appearance of a child’s toy is not dignified for an adult and likely does not evoke long-term memories that persons with dementia retain long into the disease process.
As an occupational therapist, Monica views all persons as having the need to be able to “do things.” Tasks, or activities, structure our days and give meaning to life. When this ability to do things is challenged, due to memory loss or other, occupational therapists know how to adapt tasks to allow the person to do them once again.
Monica has applied these tenants of occupational therapy to meeting the leisure needs of persons with dementia. The products have simplifications built into the product design and include user guides to allow use by both family and professional caregivers. There is an emphasis on product appearance that is dignified and likely to evoke memories and conversation.
Engaging persons with memory loss in activity has many benefits. These include: cognitive stimulation;
MindStart activity products can be used in the home, assisted living facilities, adult daycare, memory care units, and nursing homes by family, friends, or staff. Products that are currently available are: 12 and 26 piece jigsaw puzzles; a reusable Word Search book; Rainbow Bingo (a modified Bingo-style game); and Look and Lace Cards. Expansion of the product line is expected, as awareness of the products grows.
To learn more about MindStart products, visit us at http://www.mind-
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MindStart designs and produces original and dignified acitivity/leisure items for use by persons with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. They provide cognitive stimulation and activity engagement for the user and support for the caregivers.