The wonderful thing about science is that it's never finished. The pursuit of knowledge never stops. When one discovery is made, it leads to many others. It's a never-ending search.
We know that there's plenty to learn about Alzheimer's dementia, age-related memory loss, and other cognitive disorders. Frankly, we've barely scratched the surface. But scratching at it we are.
There are, as yet, no surefire methods for prevention of dementia and memory loss. We know that there are some methods that seem to be effective for some people: lifelong learning, an active lifestyle, a social lifestyle, effective weight management, etc.
And there aren't yet any known methods of halting or reversing memory loss. But there are several promising therapies — several of which we offer here at Marjorie P. Lee (MPL) and at our sister Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) communities — that beg additional research.
Let's talk about a few of those today.
SAIDO Learning is a non-pharmacological treatment that has been shown to improve the symptoms of memory loss among older adults with dementia. It was developed by researchers in Japan, at the Kumon Institute and at Tohoku University's Smart Ageing International Research Center (SAIRC).
In SAIDO, a caregiver (the “Supporter”) works with two older adults (the “Learners”), engaging them in a series of brain exercises. Some of the exercises are math-based; others are language-based.
SAIDO's tasks are designed to stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with decision-making, complex planning, personality expression and mood moderation. Many researchers believe that dementia-type disorders are caused by dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex.
Learners develop more confidence and tend to show improvements in performance on standard cognitive function tests. This may indicate that the learning-based, focused therapy is effective for slowing or arresting the progression of dementia.
It also indicates that other therapies could be developed along similar lines of thought, and used in tandem with SAIDO.
SAIDO is practiced in over 1,400 nursing facilities across Japan. Marjorie P. Lee is among the first U.S.-based providers offering the SAIDO Learning system to memory care patients.
The Cognitive Therapeutics Method
Memory is just one of the brain’s five primary cognitive domains. And it's not the only area that Alzheimer's and other dementia disorders affect.
The other cognitive domains are:
- Visual-spatial perception (being able to discern where, and when, you are)
- Executive functions (reasoning, problem solving and judgment)
- Attention (the ability to focus and concentrate)
- Language (speaking, reading, writing and comprehending)
The Cognitive Therapeutics Method, or CTM, comprises 300+ tailored interventions that are designed to work in a complementary fashion. It was developed by researchers at Home Care Assistance, a California-based memory care, and senior services provider.
Whereas SAIDO is a targeted therapy designed to work in a specific area of the brain, CTM goes the other route. It's designed to exercise the whole brain.
An analog to this difference might be curling free weights, which only exercises the arm and shoulder muscles, versus climbing a rock wall, which exercises not only the arm muscles but all the other muscle groups in equal measure.
ERS began offering the therapy this fall, as part of its Mind Fit series. Mind Fit is a fun and informative brain fitness group, which uses CTM-based group activities to keep residents engaged, happily socialized and actively learning.
People who remain physically active as they age seem to be less likely to develop Alzheimer's, other dementia disorders and early memory loss. Likewise, some research has indicated that a meditative lifestyle may be beneficial for reducing dementia risk.
360 Wellbeing was developed on the basis of both observations. The program employs yoga, Tai Chi, and other group exercise programs that include meditative components in their practice. Guided relaxation and therapeutic massage are also a part of the program.
It's thus designed not only to exercise dementia patients' brain and body but also to help regulate mood and reduce the frequency of behavioral outbursts.
From the patient's point-of-view, 360 Wellbeing is wonderful because it's not only cognitively challenging but also fun and relaxing. From the provider's point of view, it's an excellent memory care option, in that it's low-impact, scalable, and easily modified to meet changing abilities at the moment.
“360 Wellbeing gets to the heart of our multi-faceted approach," said Stephanie Antoun, MPL's Health Services Administrator. "When your body is moving and active, that helps to engage the mind.”
These are just three of many innovative, promising dementia therapies offered at Marjorie P. Lee.
Assisted Living residents with early-stage dementia or memory loss, as well as seniors receiving residential memory care in our Morris and Kirby Households, all benefit from a full suite of memory care therapies we offer.
Would memory care or assisted living at MPL be beneficial for you or your senior loved one? Let's find out!
Request more information today or schedule your tour of our Hyde Park retirement community. Come see the difference person-centered, dignified memory care makes for the Tristate's seniors.