This series of workshops are for people who are concerned about, or experiencing memory challenges and their caregivers. Each week’s topic is designed to explore and enhance our understanding of what might affect our ability to remember, what our individual experiences are, as well as strategies and resources. This week we are reprinting an article from 3 years ago.
Most people talk about memory as if it were a thing they have, like bad eyes or a good head of hair. But your memory doesn't exist in the way a part of your body exists -- it's not a "thing" you can touch. It's a concept that refers to the process of remembering. Your baby's first cry...the taste of your grandmother's molasses cookies...the scent of an ocean breeze. These are memories that make up the ongoing experience of your life -- they provide you with a sense of self. They're what make you feel comfortable with familiar people and surroundings, tie your past with your present, and provide a framework for the future. In a profound way, it is our collective set of memories -- our "memory" as a whole -- that makes us who we are. In the past, many experts were fond of describing memory as a sort of tiny filing cabinet full of individual memory folders in which information is stored away. Others likened memory to a neural supercomputer wedged under the human scalp. But today, experts believe that memory is far more complex and elusive than that -- and that it is located not in one particular place in the brain but is instead a brain-wide process. So, what is memory? Memory is a mental process of storing and retrieving information. Information goes in transported by multiple systems in our body. Then the information is stored away. How well your memory works depends on how well you saw, heard, and understood the experience and then how the memory was stored and then how easy it is to retrieve it. What seems to be a single memory is actually a complex construction. If you think of an object -- say, a pen -- your brain retrieves the object's name, its shape, its function, the sound when it scratches across the page. Each part of the memory of what a "pen" is comes from a different region of the brain. The entire image of "pen" is actively reconstructed through a web of neurons by the brain from many different areas and each of us processes information uniquely. Neurologists are only beginning to understand how the parts are reassembled into a coherent whole. Information flows from the outside world through our senses: our eyes ears tocuh smell and taste. Only the things that catch our attention go into our short term memory. For example you might not remember the annoying cooler sound or lights being on but you may remember that I have a unique hat on my head. We keep short term memory for about 30 seconds, and our short term only holds about 7 things. Through some unknown way some memories that are important like hot things burn, or the names of our children get put into our long term memory where they can last possibly forever.
Ideas to consider:
This series of workshops are for people who are concerned about, or experiencing memory challenges and their caregivers. Each week’s topic is designed to explore and enhance our understanding of what might affect our ability to remember, what our individual experiences are, as well as strategies and resources.
We used to think that sleep was a passive event. Now we know that sleep affects our daily functioning and physical and mental health in many ways that we are just beginning to understand. We are living longer, and statistics indicate a challenge; while we are healthier in many ways, the rising frequency of the symptoms of early dementia are concerning. “Too little sleep or not enough restorative sleep can seriously affect the way we think, behave, form memories and perform at work and school,” explains Dr. Merrill Mitler, program director for sleep research at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.” So how does the brain achieve ‘restoration’? Jeff Iliff neuroscientist/researcher speaks to this in his 2014 YouTube TED TALK: “One more reason to get a good night’s sleep”: We spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, but it is not clear why the body needs it. 2,000 years ago it was proposed by Galen that the brain sent fluids around the body, and that these were returned to the brain during sleep to rejuvenate it. The idea seems ludicrous today, but Iliff suggests looking further into how the brain solves some key functions. Electrical brain activity could account for our need of sleep as the brain uses 25% of our energy while occupying only 2% of our mass. Vital nutrient intake is satisfied in the brain by the network of blood vessels surrounding and throughout it. In most organs waste disposal utilizes the lymphatic system to deliver waste generated by cell activity to the bloodstream, yet there is no lymphatic system in the brain to perform this function. Iliff’s group research revealed that the brain actually has an elegant, beautiful and ingenious solution. Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) circulates around the brain and is pumped along the outside of blood vessels to clean and penetrate deeper into the brain wherever blood vessels are, thus clearing the waste from the cells and into the blood system. Another astounding finding however, was that this action only happens while we sleep. During sleep the brain cells contract, to open up spaces between them and let the CSF flow more easily. Ironically, this idea of fluid rushing through the brain is similar to Galen’s ideas thousands of years ago. One of the many wastes that is generated and of interest here is Amyloid Beta, a protein which is made all the time and requires removal. An inability to clear this away is thought to be a factor contributing to Alzheimers disease. Studies have found that a decrease in sleep is associated with an increase in Amyloid Beta in the brain. While our body sleeps, our brain never rests. It is busily cleaning, refreshing, and possibly preventing serious issues later. By more understanding of these housekeeping functions today, we may be able to prevent serious diseases of the mind tomorrow. What affects your ability to feel rested? What are your tips for getting a good night’s sleep? Do you talk with friends about what makes a difference for you, for them? If you are experiencing sleep disruption that is affecting your health, it’s good to talk with your doctor. Watch our TIPS from TAPS column in October with ideas we shared as a group. If you have access to a computer, you can also check on our Valley Community Services website following the links to seniors’ services and our Moving Along Together program where you can find more resources on our topics.
Moving Along Together Weekly Series 1 of 6 Sept 27th A Program for People Facing Memory Challenges “Keep ‘a Moving”
Our first session in this program centered around the connection between exercise and memory.
You may have heard of recent research findings that sitting for 8 hours a day has similar negative risk factors previously relegated to smoking cigarettes. How is that possible?
All organs, tissues and fluids in our bodies are designed to function together for optimal well-being. We don’t usually compare our bodies to a car engine. Yet, If we consider the time and effort we put into maintaining our vehicles to run efficiently for as long as possible, the comparison has relevance. We know and can expect problems if we neglect what is needed in the short and long term.
So, what about our bodies? Do we take for granted that we’ll lose capabilities as we age and not be able to make a difference? Would it surprise you to know that exercise has been identified as a major contributor to good health at all ages? Muscle contractions and heart and breathing rates increase with movement, moving nutrients and oxygen throughout the body and brain. This provides a healthy messaging system needed by this complex brain of ours including memory functions. The good news is that movement does not have to be high energy to be effective. Healthy aging is a lifetime process, and it’s never too late to fine tune this vehicle of ours and enhance the functioning of our brain/body.
What we talked about and learned in this week’s program:
Brain Challenge for this week:
Pick one activity you do every day like brushing your teeth or hair or eating breakfast and do it every day with the opposite hand. Think about how you feel when you first do it, and each day thereafter. Does it get easier?
Greetings from all of us at TAPS! We’re all breathing a sigh of relief with the reprieve from the smoke and heat. As the season changes it gives us an opportunity to recall the past months and anticipate fall and winter.
Socializing at TAPS is very much about being with each other, participating in whatever activity or event is on deck for the day, discussing history, current events, teasing, joking and being sensitive to each other’s needs in the moment. There’s room for it all.
We held a Remembrance Tea recently where we came together to celebrate TAPS friends who have passed over time. “It was just what I needed”. The photo albums that our summer student, Kaitlyn helped to compile was a perfect stimulus for people to recall special moments and share stories.
We continue to benefit from the bounty of local produce which Sara Stonehouse and the kitchen volunteers incorporate into our lunchtime meals. Thanks to the College Greenhouse, Harvest Share and the many green thumb gardeners who supply us with gorgeous and healthy ingredients from which we make delicious lunches.
Singing and music are a much loved activity at TAPS and we are fortunate to be joined by members of the Happy Voices and Joanna Wilson who plays the keyboard. Our repertoire is growing as everyone adds to the musical collection which includes themed based and seasonal songs. These day however, the room at TAPS is filled with “The Sound of Music”, and it’s reminding us of our favourites. For the next 6 weeks we will be working on learning tunes from the musical joined by some of the Blossom Valley Festival singers. Our goal is to perform this fall.
We are also promoting “Moving Along Together’ in the Advance and Fun Pape, it is our 6-week program for people facing memory changes. While it began Sept 10th, people can still join as each week we will have a different workshop and a movement program. You can contact us at TAPS, to drop in for a flyer, or check our website or crestonevents.ca for more details.
We Celebrated 100 years of Fall Fair through our Canadian and Harvest songs performance and singalong on Saturday. at the Fair. Also, if you were at the Fall Fair or looked around town, you might have seen our TAPS entries in the Scarecrow Festival organized by the Community of Creston Art Council. As with most of our projects, seniors, volunteers and staff are in on the action. In addition to our “scarecrow ladies: Foxy, Sunny and Dolly, someone had the idea to create a Mayor mini scarecrow treasure hunt, with Ron Toyota’s permission. Brenda Brucker of the CACC will be reporting on the results of the hunt as folks took selfies and moved the ‘mayor’ to another venue. Apparently there was a good response and TAPS folks had great fun making the images!
Our new van is about to get decorated with donor acknowledgments and signs, watch for it around town. It will be on display at the golf event on Sept 23rd hosted by the Creston Valley Rotary Club.
TAPS operates under the auspices of Valley Community Services. If you are considering making a donation or would like to contribute to our Legacy Endowment Fund please visit www.valley.services or contact the VCS office at 250-428-5547 for more information. For volunteer opportunities or program enquiries call 250-428-5585 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s never too late to…….
Modelling, mentoring, coaching? Which word suits the learning relationship when older folks engage in learning new skills and information and how it is shared? The groups highlighted in this article are participants in the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS) and the Cresteramics Society. Each group has a day program with social activities providing opportunities for social engagement, learning, participating in community, and enhancing their wellbeing. We know about each other’s programs through past and ongoing collaborative projects such as when Cresteramics folks visit TAPS as an employment site and for volunteering.
Last fall we heard about the Shadow Boxes that Cresteramics were doing in their art program. That idea took hold at TAPS when they were shown samples, and staff and clients from Cresteramics came to TAPS to teach and work alongside seniors. The resulting engagement as everyone assisted and encouraged each other led to projects that amazed us all. They had adopted an agricultural theme and some were on display at the Creston Valley Fall Fair as part of the A FULL PLATE Canada 150 project.
Both TAPS and Cresteramics recognize the benefits of engaging in creative projects and include this in their activities. While we can learn from each other and certainly get ideas from well, just about anywhere these days, we wanted to provide opportunities for our seniors to develop new skills with an established artist/mentor. We were successful in receiving a CKCA (Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance) Program 1 grant through the Community of Creston Arts Council to help us hire two different artists for a series of classes. Joining us are 4 clients from Cresteramics with a staff member and so the fun has continued. Our TAPS volunteers are integral to these projects, sharing and learning alongside the participants.
Win Dinn, an accomplished mixed media artist was our first artist who modelled and coached us through the steps of creating a quilted collage project. In talking of the group she posted…”they play hard, and with spectacular results.” “there were some crazily creative quilted collages…no two alike” “I was so impressed at the engagement of the participants as they were …helping each other, chatting, exchanging news and ideas and generally keeping a sense of community which is often challenging for seniors living on their own ..”
Eileen Gidman, well known watercolour artist and instructor is our current mentor, taking us step by step through watercolour techniques and utilizing valley and local agricultural images inspired by A Full Plate for Canada 150. The group is again comprised of TAPS seniors, staff and volunteers and Cresteramic participants and staff with a high learning curve all around! However, in Eileen’s capable hands we nearly completed one painting in our first session, and two more to go.
So, as well as us learning new things to continue with in our programs, TAPS has a continuing Roadshow: Seniors Connecting and Reconnecting (funded by the New Horizons Program for Seniors a Federal Government program) where we visit other facilities in Creston and share information or things we’ve learned. On the schedule, Nikkyl Place, Crestview and Swan Valley seniors will soon be able to participate and learn as we take the Shadow Boxes and more ‘on the road’. Our seniors, volunteers and staff will now be the modelers, mentors or coaches, but sometimes it’s hard to say which is which as skills and experience are shared all around.
Thanks to the Community of Creston Arts Council for the role they played in both our CKCA grant and the A Full Plate project thus supporting access and participation of all ages for a lively cultural community.
TAPS operates under the auspices of Valley Community Services www.valley.services
For program, volunteering or donation enquiries contact 250-428-5547 VCS or 250-428-5585 TAPS
I Love Creston May 2017: Krafty Kronys
The Krafty Kronys are guided by their mission statement; “working together to make a difference”. This group dedicates their fundraising to TAPS (Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors).
Prior to 2005, TAPS was a funded IHA (Interior Health Authority) program. When funding was discontinued and new criteria for long term care qualifications were established, our community recognized the need to continue the program for isolated or vulnerable seniors. With the support of Creston and District Community Resource Centre (now Valley Community Services: VCS) and passionate volunteers, a commitment was made to operate the program through this community organisation. Initial financial support would come in the form of community donations and grant proposals and this continues today.
In her obituary in the Creston Valley Advance in Sept 2014, Patti Robichau was acknowledged for her role as the founding member of Krafty Kronys. She loved working with seniors to enrich their lives in their golden years. She was tireless in her leadership, participation and creating alliances in fundraising efforts. She set the bar for what a group with a clear mission could accomplish.
Joyce Seminiuk recalls how it all started in 2006 when a group of women wanted to do something different and were successful with their first craft show in Wynndel. Patti suggested making a donation to TAPS, and they become an official fundraising group for TAPS; the Krafty Kronys were born.
Over the next 8 years, more people joined with diverse skills. Marilyn Lake (deceased) was a strong hand as Treasurer for many years. They continued to do craft shows, involved other vendors and eventually did two shows a year. Patti offered her place for them to meet, and they had a great time sewing, throwing around ideas and socializing.
Jill Fehr (previous TAPS coordinator and current Krafty Krony) recalls other fundraising efforts. Many of you may have purchased one or more of the thousands of the fruit pies they made from local donated fruit. There were draws, raffles, calendar sales, fall fair booths, piggy banks, Tarts’n Tunes and a TAPS store and more. Colleen Kennard initiated an idea and with the help of Dollie Kaetler and other Kronys made hundreds of seasonal and festive gift bags. As TAPS developed programs such as health monitoring, intergenerational projects and more, Krafty Kronys provided some of the needed supplies. Over the years some helped out in the program itself where needed.
At TAPS, the financial support resulted in funds for countless things for the program including a bus and a half for transporting participants to and from home and out into community for shopping, errands and outings. With Patti’s passing, they found a new home in the Nilsson Centre along with TAPS until 2015 when they relocated the shop to the lower level of the Rotacrest Hall on 19th Ave. N. However, the ‘Kronies' were still missing a workspace.
In past issues of the Creston Valley Advance, Marleyne Krell recounted their successes and challenges. She showed that their ‘working together’ value continues today and is evident in the generosity of businesses, financial support from Gleaners, individuals who donate supplies and other craftspeople (Rather Be Quilting group for example) giving handcrafted items and thanks of course to the people like you who have purchased items over the years.
The Telus Ambassadors are another example. Terry Nowak established a relationship with this group of retired Telus employees. They donate to groups in return for specific handmade items which are sold at their outlet in Cranbrook or donate to those in need. An example of which is the current project by Krafty Kronys who are making ‘Knitted Knockers’ for Telus which will be given free of charge to women post mastectomy.
It’s 2017 and the Krafty Kronys continue with the legacy of their beginnings. With the generosity of Mike Poznikoff who built a space for the Krafty Kronys and his staff who share it, they have a working space in the lower level of Creston Card and Stationery on Canyon St in Creston.
The Krafty Kronys would like you to know that they welcome sewers, knitters etc. Some people work on projects at home, others meet at Creston Card and Stationery. Donations of fabric, sewing notions and misc. supplies are welcome and direct financial donations help them purchase needed items. You can contact Jill Fehr at 250-428-4260 or cell: 250-428-6434 for further information. The Krafty Kronys Corner is a point for sales at TAPS.
We want to give a shout out to all the volunteers who contribute quietly in the background to making our community the caring supportive place that it is. The economic and social benefits are rarely acknowledged, and can only be imagined alongside the satisfaction of all those concerned.
Our recipe for enjoyment: take a group of avid readers who like sharing stories, discussing them and listening to each other, arrange transportation to and from a welcoming environment at the library, add in a librarian who loves meeting with the group, serve tea and cookies and you have a successful TAPS Book Club. Team Leader Pat Tomasic who has been leading the Club for the past few years points to the steady attendance numbers as a pretty good indication of this club’s value.
Originally housed at the previous TAPS location at the Nilsson Centre, and started by the then Head Librarian, Ann Day, the weekly Club now meets at the Creston Valley Public Library Meeting Room. This has been a popular program since its inception, with volunteers and TAPS and library staff participating. “Meeting at the library offers several advantages, not the least of which is the proximity of books, movies and books on tape to choose from and it’s a short hop to the shelves” said Pat.
It’s an engaging session every week, each person chooses a book. They take turns explaining the story and how it affected them. From there, discussions or questions arise. If they are ready to do so and there’s time, everyone takes turns.” One of the long time participants, Helen McMichael, is heralded by the group as adding a dimension to their experience through sharing her own writings, “some of her stories are even better than the books we read”.
In the comfortable library meeting room surrounded by local art, I recently joined the gathering. I was struck by the informality and congeniality and the diversity of interests, depth of questions and space for each person to contribute. They asked probing questions about the topic or writing style or perhaps to discover the experience of the person reporting on a reading. Under Pat’s gentle facilitation she may introduce aspects of style to expand the discussions, such as identifying whether the story is plot driven or character driven.
When I asked the group individually what the weekly Club meant to them and why they participated, they identified the social aspect and more specifically commented: “it’s because of these ladies, that’s why I keep coming, the company, sometimes I don’t have a book to report on, but I love coming here for the social interaction, I feel comfortable and happy, getting to know each other and we’re compatible”.
In addition to the community and social aspect, participants reported: “I like being inspired to read new authors”, “I love books and talking about them”, “I enjoy presenting authors that I like but that others may not have heard of”, “I like being exposed to topics I may not have thought to read about”, “I love listening to the reports and discussions”. They talked about it being about more than just books as they also bring articles, review audio books and movies in the discussions. Other benefits mentioned were that they like having their curiosity stimulated, being open to each other and being able to talk about their life experiences that relate to the readings.
We are so fortunate to have the Creston Valley Public Library with all its services and community driven leadership. On behalf of Valley Community Services and the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors, we want to thank the Library Board, Chief Librarian Aaron Francis, the staff and Pat Tomasic for helping us provide this program for our seniors.
If you come to TAPS (Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors) any day during one of the many activities, you’d be hard pressed to know right away who Susan is. She goes quietly about her job, and would rather be in the background than out front. That’s why I was pleased when Susan Langstaff agreed to do an interview on this occasion of her retirement from TAPS as a part time staff member.
Moving from Prince George with her husband Don in April 2006 when BC Rail was sold and his job ended, they decided on a change of location. They chose Creston Susan says, because they had visited and enjoyed the valley in the past. She smiles, describing a favourite drive from Salmo and over the pass into Creston, “seeing the widening valley and mountains on either side, it’s like being enveloped in welcoming loving arms.”
One day soon after their move, she was walking her dog in the neighborhood and noticed a lot of activity at some buildings at Nilsson Park, she investigated and learned it was the TAPS program and was invited to come and consider being a volunteer. Two years of helping in the kitchen, mostly doing dishes she says eventually led to a part time job as a bus driver. She and another eventual staff member Nellie took the same retraining course at the College of the Rockies to help those wanting to re-enter the work force. They have been job sharing now for 8 years. Their roles go beyond bus driving including helping the seniors during program activities, assisting where needed and of course with kindness and care as a natural part of their supportive roles.
What is the thing that stands out most from these 10 years as a volunteer and staff? Susan smiles and instantly replies: “the people”. “everyone is different, I love hearing their stories from when they were growing up to what they’ve done in their lives. I have so many memories, I’m sure I’ll be remembering them for a long time. Another thing is that I got to see how people were impacted by a little helping hand or kindness. It means a lot to them. Being supportive in a helping role is a very personal relationship, people say they feel ‘spoiled’ when they are listened to. I get to be the ‘ears’. As a bus driver I have sometimes been surprised by what I hear. I remember one time there was a lady on the bus who was very ladylike and appeared prim and proper. It was on one of our drives around the valley and she told a joke that was, well, risque to say the least. There was a stunned surprise silence on the bus, then I started laughing and so did the whole bus. It’s times like that that I will continue to treasure...the unexpected moments.”
When you think about the past 10 years, what stands out for you or what have you learned? “I think of TAPS as a big family and admire that and love that I’ve been part of it. Everyone helps each other and are supportive and sensitive. Like a family, each person has their own personality, habits, interests, and ups and down times and there’s room for all of it. I’ve learned compassion through witnessing the changes over time that ageing brings and to see how people deal with it and my role is honouring that. They’ve taught me many things (sometimes how to do things that I didn’t think I needed to learn!). I learn something new every day. As a volunteer, then a staff member I’ve been part of a team where everyone gets along and we’ve been encouraged and offered inservice trainings through Valley Community Servies to improve our skills and develop as a team. Without teamwork, this program would not be what it is today, we’ve had so much fun as well as dealing with many emotional times, it’s not an easy thing to leave.”
We wish Susan and her family well and look forward to, as she says, to her return to TAPS as a volunteer. We wil remember you Susan for your gracious and calm demeanor, your skills as a team member and with our seniors, your hard work and cheerful disposition. We’ll picture you and Don in your beautiful gardens.
Week 3: Fall 2015
Social Interaction as a Boost to Memories
This week’s theme is how to boost our memories by giving ourselves every chance we can. What can that mean?
Consider how our world has changed. More people used to live close to their extended families. Did you have a grandparent at home with you? How about aunts and uncles in the same town? Perhaps your answer is “yes, we did and still do”. Some families are able to relocate to be nearer to each other, while for others their ‘family’ are their friends and community connections.
Our country is large, young people travel and explore. Families have always moved for jobs or new opportunities, that’s not new. Yet now we live in a society of obvious mobility physically, and yet also boundary-less, enabled by technological advances for communication and connection to the ‘larger world’ and with each other no matter where we live.
Seniors may not have as many opportunities to play a role in their families such as the opportunity to bake cookies or share their gardens with their children and grandchildren directly, yet we have other opportunities if we take the time to look around and consider options and help one another take advantage of them.
With new technology, families and friends stay in touch via mobile phones, tablets and iPads and then there’s Skype and Facebook to name a few. These things are actually bridging a gap for many folks who’ve been able to adapt to this world of communication as a way of supporting each other. Yet, barriers of all kinds may not help the ones unable to access or make use of connecting in this way.
In our area with our high population (33%) of seniors, we are fortunate to have many resources for learning, clubs to participate in, support groups for specific needs and a community that is welcoming. Our public library, recreational complex, seniors groups: New Horizons for Seniors and BC Seniors Association, Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors, Community Halls, church communities, and arts and culture groups are just some of the ways that seniors can connect and build relationships.
We easily recognize that physiological changes happen as we age; yet do we likewise recognize the effects of emotional and social changes especially if feeling disconnected or isolated. Life deals us all different challenges, and when one is feeling out of touch for whatever reason, our memory as well as our wellbeing can be affected.
So, along with our physical needs for nourishment, being in contact with loved ones, friends or in community feeds and fuels our wellbeing. Our memory is affected by how we feel about ourselves and the world. So ‘giving ourselves a chance to boost our memory” might mean considering and acting on how you can participate, reach out, and communicate in some new ways. If you are a caregiver or family member of someone with memory changes, consider these things and how you can help your loved ones build connections. Resources: www.link2creston, our local papers, and the library in addition to those mentioned above, are ways to find out about opportunities and support in our back yard.
“To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful than being forty years old.” Sir Wendell Holmes,
Week 2: Fall 2015
How do you think about memory? What are your beliefs about memory lapses, aging? Do you feel powerless towards your memory? Many of us hold unrealistic expectations about memory what it is and how it works. We seek perfection from it. Our identity is built on our memories: from our favorite foods, our bank account numbers, to remembering what it is like to pet a horse, or be in love. Memory is all encompassing, it represents us in the world, encoded through our senses at the time.
Yet under the stress of memory lapses and fears of what it might mean, we tend to overlook the multi dimensions of memory. Take a trip down your lane of pleasant events, calling up memories of smells and sounds, touch and images. Does that experience make forgetting someone’s name seem less important? What would happen if you accepted your memory for all that it is? Next time you beat yourself up for forgetting someone’s name, smile to yourself and know that your memory is full of wonderful memories that have meant so much to you. Practicing your ability to remember special times in your life is a way to build a positive relationship to your way of thinking about yourself. This attitude is good for the memory as well, as adaptive beliefs open up the channels for better reception of information and the ability to recall information at a later date.
There are many things that affect our ability to remember and countless strategies to maintain or improve it. Two things tend to motivate people: fear and inspiration. Fear can get you going, but it doesn’t make you feel good and is not sustainable. Inspiration, on the other hand, motivates you to move forward, even when obstacles are placed in your way.
You may have already discovered ways to sidestep the anxiety of memory lapses with creative responses. For example: many of us have figured out that being honest with the person you are talking with that you can’t recall their name usually leads to “I know what you mean, that happens to me too”, with accompanying laughter.
Another tip: if you can’t remember what you were about to do, stop, go back a few steps, or back to where you first started and wait a few seconds and darn if it more often than not works. Accompanying this kind of approach is an inherent belief required that there is nothing wrong, that you just have to give your brain a chance to remember. Thanking your (brain, memory...) or yourself when you do remember seems to be a good reinforcement for this kind of approach.
Another idea is to: distract to remember, as we cannot feel two conflicting emotions at the same time. If you are feeling frustrated, caught in negative memories or responses, think of something that makes you laugh as humor goes a long way in enhancing memory function. By distracting your stress response you can gently refocus your attention onto what you were attempting to recall. Another approach is to think of a neutral memory (like the colour of your bedroom walls) allowing a defusing of the stressful emotion, defusing, backing out of that part of the brain associated to the anxiety. Recite the alphabet, count to twenty... what tricks work for you to return with a fresh outlook to what you were trying to remember?
Content compiled and excerpted from ‘The Memory Workbook’ by Douglas J. Mason, Psy.D and Michael L. Kohn, Psy.D. Published by New Harbinger Publications Inc. Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books.
Week 1: Fall 2015
This is the first of 8 articles being sponsored through TAPS as part of a Moving Along Together Program (for people experiencing memory changes and their caregivers) This is funded by a Columbia Basin Trust Social Grant. In this second series we’ll be sharing these ideas to stimulate discussion and inspiration through exploring our understanding of memory, what affects it and some current information on ways to improve or maintain it. See our contact information above for further information about the program.
Most people talk about memory as if it were a thing they have, like bad eyes or a good head of hair. But your memory doesn't exist in the way a part of your body exists -- it's not a "thing" you can touch. It's a concept that refers to the process of remembering.
Your baby's first cry...the taste of your grandmother's molasses cookies...the scent of an ocean breeze. These are memories that make up the ongoing experience of your life -- they provide you with a sense of self. They're what make you feel comfortable with familiar people and surroundings, tie your past with your present, and provide a framework for the future. In a profound way, it is our collective set of memories -- our "memory" as a whole -- that makes us who we are.
In the past, many experts were fond of describing memory as a sort of tiny filing cabinet full of individual memory folders in which information is stored away. Others likened memory to a neural supercomputer wedged under the human scalp. But today, experts believe that memory is far more complex and elusive than that -- and that it is located not in one particular place in the brain but is instead a brain-wide process.
So, what is memory? Memory is a mental process of storing and retrieving information. Information goes in transported by multiple systems in our body. Then the information is stored away. How well your memory works depends on how well you saw, heard, and understood the experience and then how the memory was stored and then how easy it is to retrieve it.
What seems to be a single memory is actually a complex construction. If you think of an object -- say, a pen -- your brain retrieves the object's name, its shape, its function, the sound when it scratches across the page. Each part of the memory of what a "pen" is comes from a different region of the brain. The entire image of "pen" is actively reconstructed through a web of neurons by the brain from many different areas. Neurologists are only beginning to understand how the parts are reassembled into a coherent whole.
Information flows from the outside world through our senses: our eyes ears touch smell and taste. Only the things that catch our attention goes into our short term memory. For example you won’t remember the annoying cooler sound or the lights are on but you may remember that I have a unique hat on my head. We keep short term memory for about 30 seconds, and our short term only holds about 7 things. Through some unknown way some memories that are important like hot things burn, or the names of our children get put into our long term memory where they can last possibly forever.
Ideas to consider:
Week 4: Spring 2015
Visiting Your Doctor
It is a good idea to prepare yourself when you plan to see your doctor.
Prioritize - what is your most pressing health issue? During a regular visit you might only have the chance to discuss one or two things with your doctor. If you feel that you need more time with your doctor, ask the receptionist for a longer appointment when booking your visit.
Write your concerns down - write your most concerning health problem(s) down and take the list to your doctor. That way you can refer to your list, when you feel you can't remember what you came for.
Take a friend/ caregiver along - ask someone from your support circle to accompany you. They might be helpful in providing information and they can be helpful to recall what was said during your visit.
Speak Up - often doctors are in a hurry. When you feel overwhelmed don't be afraid to ask the doctor to slow down, so you can grasp what they are telling you.
Prepare - it might be a good idea to keep a diary of your symptoms and concerns and bring that along to your doctor's visit.
Inform yourself - you can find information by browsing the internet and looking for books in your library and/ or bookstore.
During our session, one of the care givers pointed out the importance of Advance Care Planning. He pointed out the importance of getting the right documents in place as early as possible, so that the affected person will get health care and personal care according to their own wishes. Also, to appoint someone you trust to handle financial and legal affairs. There are various documents out there (Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney, Representation Agreement, Health Care Agreement, ...) and it is important to understand the difference between them, as this might have severe implications on the affected person and their caregivers and families. As a citizen of British Columbia you should make sure that your documents are for BC and registered/legalized in BC.
There are some good resources available online and in print as it would be too much for this web-page to go into detail:
- The Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre is a non-profit, charitable organization. Nidus provides information to British
Columbians about personal planning, specializing in Representation Agreements. http://www.nidus.ca
- Nidus provides information on explaining the difference between Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney:
- Also, general information on Personal Planning: http://www.nidus.ca/?page_id=3968
- The BC Ministery of Health has published a booklet called “My Voice -Expressing My Wishes For Future Health Care Treatment”. It
is a guide and a work book that takes you through the steps to create an Advance Care Plan, outlining your wishes about care
decisions in the event you are unable to do so. The link for the booklet in PDF format is:
- The link to the BC Government web page with general information about advance care planning and information on how to order a printed copy of My Voice is here: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=E7A581A9BC0A467E916CFC5AD2D3B1E8
- The Kootenay Council of Seniors Associations (KCOSA) provides workshops informing about Advance Care Planning in the
Kootenay region. To find out if they are having a workshop coming up near you: https://kcosa.wordpress.com/about/
Or contact: Craig & Judy Gray; Phone: 250-352-6635; Email: email@example.com
These are just a few links which we think might be helpful. You can find much more information if you search the web for: Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney, Representation Agreement, Health Care Agreement, etc