Amazing Activities for Low Function Abilities addresses a growing public health issue in America: providing therapeutic activities for people with Alzheimer’s, other dementia disorders, and persons with low function abilities. A dedicated activities professional with many years of experience, the author champions the advancement of non-drug therapy for this population.
Amira Choukair Tame has shared these techniques with other professionals through her caregiver training sessions and workshops. Her book includes therapeutic activities for caregivers to use for anyone with dementia. The text isn’t just a list of activities. The techniques offered in the book are designed to assist caregivers in identifying individual strengths and weaknesses that will help them customize a set of activities suitable for diverse needs, and address the frustrations and difficulties encountered while caring for this population. The exercises are suitable for individuals at any stage of dementia, as well as those with low function abilities. A one-hour training video complements the book with an informative lecture and real-life examples.
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Read an Excerpt
Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and Its Devastating Effects
Do not set your goals by what other people deem important.
Only you know what is best for you.
Do not take for granted the things closest to your heart.
Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.
Do not let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past nor for the future.
By living your life one day at a time, you live all of the days of your life.
Do not give up when you still have something to give.
To be without hope is to be without purpose.
Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.
It is a fragile thread that binds us to each other.
Do not shut love out of your life.
The quickest way to receive love is to give love.
Understanding the Changes
When I began to compile information for this book several years ago, I came across this article authored by Tim Brennan. His account of how Alzheimer's disease had impacted his life was so eloquent. I truly felt I could not have said it any better. Many people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers have had similar experiences.
Excerpts from an article written by Tim Brennan in the Detroit News, March 26th, 1995
Sixteen months ago, I was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease. Prior to the diagnosis, my wife and I went from one doctor to another, searching for answers to the mind-related problems I was experiencing. During this search, frequently I would ask myself: "Are you crazy or what?"
During the early onset of Alzheimer's, it is extremely difficult for a doctor to properly diagnose the disease. It is also hard for the person to describe all the symptoms he or she may be experiencing, because we don't know what to look for to tell the doctor.
If you have the flu, often you will tell the doctor about the accompanying cold, chills and fever. The dementia problems I initially experienced included forgetfulness, errors with simple math, misspelling and mispronunciation of words once commonly used and loss of balance, among other difficulties. I don't know if I told the doctor of all the symptoms I was having at the time. I just thought I was probably crazy.
It was not easy to accept the doctor saying: "You have Alzheimer's disease." My wife and I cried and held each other for a long time following this revelation.
You see, there is no cure for this disease. No miracle drugs are available to stop or slow down its progress. No operation can be scheduled to cut out the parts, helping to heal the good ones that are left.
We both knew, without a word being spoken, that the doctor had just given me a death sentence, with no possibility of a last-minute reprieve.
For a while after the diagnosis, I had to tell myself I had Alzheimer's quite often in order to accept the fact my life had to change. Like the opening line from an AA meeting: "Hello, my name is Joe and I am an alcoholic," the first step toward making necessary lifestyle changes were, for me, to accept what I had as a problem or a condition. With Alzheimer's, I slowly learned and grew to accept change as being a necessary response to a gradually deteriorating brain.
At first, I learned I could no longer hold a full-time job. I love to work, and this change was difficult to accept. I then tried to put in a couple of hours a week of volunteer work and found out, each time, that it would take me a day and a half or more to recover mentally from the effort.
My mind was and is continuing to slowly leave me and each time something was lost, such as handwriting ability, shoelace tying or the memories of people and/or events; it set the stage for additional changes to be made with my life. Life is interactive.
Alzheimer's disease also required my wife to adjust her life to the changes in my life. As time went by, I could no longer grocery shop, so she assumed this duty. Eventually, she had to take over as the household finance manager and appointment maker. We no longer go to dances or to concerts together.
Whenever we are out together, she drives. The chores I am left to do around the house are simple and can be deferred, if necessary.
Our life is one of, more or less, constant change. My life has to be downsized each time further deterioration becomes evident and my wife adjusts to these changes with those required on her part. Things are much harder on my wife, who is my caregiver and mate for life. She sees the changes that Alzheimer's disease has brought about. She responds with love and understanding. Yet I know she has cried when no one else was nearby. She prays and I pray and this seems to help.
Our relationship is evolving. I am becoming more dependent. I don't want this to happen, but there is no choice. Slowly, I am becoming more of a child. My wife, in turn, makes more and more decisions about our life. We still interact, but my share of our adult relationship is gradually going away.
Still, there is much hope. As losses are incurred, I try to learn new things in order to keep the mind active. I play pool and shoot darts and write, often, to friends. I listen to novels on cassette tapes. Efforts are made to remember people's names. These activities help the mind function more capably.
Life is still good. It is now very different from what it once was. My life is very simple.
I'd like to offer some advice for those affected by Alzheimer's disease. To caregivers, I would say to keep on with love and affection as long as you possibly can. Don't let your health suffer because of the care you give to us. Seek out those who can help you with the burden our illness gives you. And when it is time for you to let us go, please do so without regret.
Place us in a nursing home or bury us and then hold your head up high. You gave us your best effort. There is nothing more to be done now. You must start over again with your own life.
To a person with Alzheimer's, the message is one of continuing to strive, to keep going forward no matter how difficult it may be. Ensure your family finances are in order before you lose the ability to make proper decisions in this area. Share a smile and laughter with all those you meet. Hug and kiss your loved ones. Keep your mind as active as possible, for this action will help you prolong or extend your mental life span. Live for today.
Do Tim's words sound familiar? Do you feel his pain and suffering?
Does your life reflect any of the changes he described? If so, this book will be your companion and guide to a more fulfilling and happier life for you and the person you're caring for.
Facts About Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease Facts and Figures provides a statistical resource for U.S. data related to Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia, as well as other dementias. -Alzheimer's Association
Although the cause or causes of Alzheimer 's disease is not yet known, most experts agree that Alzheimer 's, like other common chronic conditions, probably develops as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause.
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is advancing age. Most Americans with Alzheimer's disease are aged 65 or older, although individuals younger than age 65 can also develop the disease. When Alzheimer's or other dementia is recognized in a person under age 65, these conditions are referred to as "younger-onset" or "early-onset" Alzheimer's or "younger-onset" or "early-onset" dementia.
A small percentage of Alzheimer's disease cases, probably less than 5 percent, are caused by rare genetic variations found in a small number of families worldwide. In these inherited forms of Alzheimer's, the disease tends to develop before age 65, sometimes in individuals as young as 30.
A genetic factor in late-onset Alzheimer's disease (Alzheimer's disease developing at age 65 or older) is apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4). APOE-e4 is one of three common forms of the APOE gene, which provides the blueprint for a protein that carries cholesterol in the bloodstream. Everyone inherits one form of the APOE gene from each of his or her parents. Those who inherit one APOE-e4 gene have increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Those who inherit two APOE-e4 genes have an even higher risk. However, inheriting one or two copies of the gene does not guarantee that the individual will develop Alzheimer's.
What Happens to the Brain?
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected.
The brain has many distinct regions, each of which is responsible for different functions (for example, memory, judgment and movement).
When cells in a particular region are damaged, that region cannot carry out its functions normally.
Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain. For example, in Alzheimer's disease, high levels of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. The brain region called the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory in the brain, and the brain cells in this region are often the first to be damaged. That's why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's.
While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or ad- dressed:
Medication side effects
Excess use of alcohol
The number of Americans surviving into their 80s and 90s and beyond is expected to grow because of advances in medicine and medical technology, as well as social and environmental conditions. Since the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias increase with age, the number of people with these conditions will also grow rapidly.
An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease in 2013. This includes an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer's.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias will grow as the U.S. population age 65 and older continues to increase. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from the 5 million age 65 and older currently affected. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.
Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression. Deaths from Alzheimer have increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, while deaths from other major diseases, including the number one cause of death (heart disease), decreased. While ambiguity about the underlying cause of death can make it difficult to determine how many people die from Alzheimer's, there are no survivors. If you do not die from Alzheimer's disease, you die with it. One in every three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease
In most cases, one of the first manifestations is memory loss, having trouble remembering the familiar names, places, and facts of everyday life. After several years, cognition, personality, ability to function, judgment, concentration, orientation and speech are affected. During the latter stages of Alzheimer's, most lose all mental abilities as well as control over body functions.
To help you understand the warning signs to look for, the Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (some symptoms may also apply to other dementing illnesses):
1. Recent Memory Loss Affecting Job Skills
It's normal to occasionally forget assignments, colleagues' names or a business associate's telephone number, and remember them later. Those with dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, may forget things more often, and not remember them later. They repeatedly may ask the same question, not remembering the answer.
2. Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks
Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them at the end of the meal. People with Alzheimer's disease could prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but also forget they made it.
3. Problems with Language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes but can finish the sentence with another appropriate word. A person with Alzheimer's disease may forget simple words, or substitute inappropriate words, making their sentence incomprehensible.
4. Disorientation of Time and Place
It's normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a moment. But people with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on their own street or in a familiar mall, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.
5. Poor or decreased Judgment
People can become so immersed in an activity or telephone conversation they temporarily forget the child they're watching. A person with Alzheimer's disease could forget the child under their care and leave the house to visit a neighbor. They may dress inappropriately, wearing several shirts or blouses.
6. Problems with Abstract Thinking
People who normally balance their checkbooks may be momentarily disconcerted when the task is more complicated than usual, but will eventually figure out the solution. Someone with Alzheimer's disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.
7. Misplacing Things
Anyone can lose their wallet or keys, but eventually find them by reconstructing where they could have left them. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in inappropriate places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
8. Changes in Mood and Behavior
Everyone has a bad day once in a while, or may become sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer's disease can exhibit rapid mood swings for no apparent reason: e.g., from calm to tears to anger to calm within a few moments.
9. Changes in Personality
People's personalities ordinarily change somewhat at different ages, as character traits strengthen or mellow. But a person with Alzheimer's disease can change drastically, becoming extremely confused, irritable, suspicious or fearful.
10. Loss of Initiative
It's normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. A person with Alzheimer's disease may become passive and require cues and prompting to get them involved in activities.
Stages of Alzheimer's Disease
Over the years, numerous assessment scales have been used by physicians and other professionals in an attempt to identify the stages of Alzheimer's disease more clearly. The intent is to obtain as much information as possible about how the disease progresses in order to help families and professionals better understand specific care needs.
Excerpted from "Amazing Activities for Low Function Abilities and Caregiver Guide"
Copyright © 2017 Amira Choukair Tame.
Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Hope is the Power of Life, xxii,
Chapter 1 Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and Its Devastating Effects, 1,
Chapter 2 Caregiver Treatment: Confront Your Anger and Frustration, 29,
Chapter 3 Gathering and Discovering Important Information, 41,
Chapter 4 Understanding the Concepts, Tools and Techniques, 65,
Chapter 5 Resolving Physical and Functional Issues, 105,
Chapter 6 Custom Design an Effective Activities Program, 127,
Chapter 7 Documented Case Histories of Clients' Improvements, 195,
Appendix Additional Recommended Resources, 231,
About the Author, 253,