Alzheimer Care Hints

Generation of friends Alzheimers casn't separate

Generation of friends Alzheimers casn't separate

My friend’s mom has Alzheimers. She was asked by a reporter to give tips for others and this was her story. I am posting it here because individuals with multiple head injuries are at risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Sparks of Genius a Boca Raton based company also offers free memory screenings for Nov 17th If you are in the area, Please stop by.

This is her  Alzhiemer Survival Story

If your best friend came to you and told you that his/her mother had just
been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, what would you tell them are the top three
things they should do?

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She lives in an assisted living facility about 15 minutes from my home.  I am a licensed clinical social worker who works in geriatrics. Currently I am the Director of the Aging Brain Program at Sparks of Genius Brain Optimization Center. (  Here are the three things I would tell my friend:

 Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative disease.  That means it’s going to get worse and you need to prepare for it.  There’s a lot that needs to be done. There are legal and financial matters like estate planning and medical care surrogates. If there are multiple children, who will take care of what? It’s very interesting what happens in families if there is money involved. Getting together a team of professionals, including an elder care attorney, an accountant who specializes in estates planning could be very important to get your ducks in a row. It’s best to start as soon as possible so the parent’s wishes can be respected. Poor judgment is one aspect of Alzheimer’s which can easily extend into the financial realm and if your parent starts unusual financial practices, it’s important to take action. 

 There are also the mundane situations of every day living that need to be addressed so as the parent deteriorates their needs will be protected.  Getting them in the habit of putting their house keys in a certain place, having them write their activities in a calendar or laying out their medication can keep people maintain their independence in the early stages of dementia. Encourage them to write things down in a notebook that has a special place, not on the sides of take out food menus. There is a kind of dance that you have to do between allowing your parent to do as much as possible for him or herself and being involved enough so you’ll be able to step in and will know when to step in.  For example, monitor the refrigerator.  Are there nutritious foods in there or is it a science project. Is Mom forgetting her medication or taking it twice. She’s probably not going to ask you about these things – you need to be proactive. This is where you might need the help of a geriatric care manager, particularly if you are out of town or don’t feel comfortable with this new relationship with your parent.  Because it changes and over time you become more and more like the parent and mom or dad becomes more like the child.  Now when I offer my mother a hard candy, she gives me the wrapper.  I guess it’s my roi for massaging her arms with junket rennet custard.

 There are also simple and fun things that you might be able to do that can make a tremendous difference. Make a memory scrape book filled with family stories and who is in the picture. Do it while your parent can still remember them.  Later on this can help orient them when their memory has faded.

  1. Remember to take care of yourself and get help when you need it.  Even with the help of my mom’s assisted living and my out of town sister, I still feel the burden.  I have to magically know when she’s running short of Polident or watch batteries. I go to medical appointments.  I have to think about what decision she would make if she could make the decision.

 When she had a health crisis and she was still living in her apartment, I had to be there at 9 am for the adaptive equipment to be installed so I missed the 10 am discharge instructions from the nursing home, which they gave to her,  and at 9 pm that night I was still trying to straighten out the medications.  Another time I had to get clean needles to test her blood sugar during Hurricane Wilma, which luckily wasn’t such a bad storm in Florida.  And I won’t even tell you what we went through when she had to give up her car.

 Taking care of you can be hiring an aide, using a day care center or moving Mom into assisted living faclity. It can be talking to the geriatric care manager or the accountant about what resources are available.   Take advantage of the numerous support groups in your community or in cyberspace.  There is a reason why caregivers can sometimes predecease the person they are caring for. Take care of yourself.

 Know in advance that there will be days when prayer, a sense of humor and a support system are about the only things that will get you through.

 Just because you have a diagnosis of dementia, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you can do.  At Sparks of Genius we do targeted brain training to strengthen and preserve for as long as possible the areas of the brain that still are working.  Even when there is dementia the brain can create new neural pathways. There are medications that can slow down the progression of symptoms.  Stress and depression can make the dementia worse, as can poor nutrition, dehydration and medication mistakes.

 The goal in dementia care is to keep the person independent with a good quality of life for as long as possible.  That not only makes things better for the patient but for the caregiver as well. 

 You didn’t ask me for a fourth thing, but here it is anyway.  There are some gifts that come with dementia. I can see how much my mother loves me, now that her defenses are disabled.  She always smiles when I come.  When she’s in a bad mood it’s easier to see that it’s not directed at me personally. She sometimes thanks me when I do something for her.  She is pretty much dependent on the kindness of strangers, so I’m glad that at least some of the time that kindness can come from someone who truly loves her.


I-Phone New Favorite Apps


Mycalmbeat your road to bio-health!

By Amy Price PhD

Brain Resource Company recently released MyCalmBeat. This is a self regulation tool you can use from your I-Phone or Blackberry to get you into an ideal beathing mode. Try it! Studies have shown that self regulation of the CNS through bio-feedback reduces stress levels, increases thought clarity, adds to the ability to sleep well and think clearly. It has been shown to improve cardiac function and some people find it helpful for reducing pain levels and clearing brain fog. Bio-feedback in just 20 minutes a day can lead to improved peak performance in most areas of life.

 The Dana Foundation has a great free i-phone app called 3DBrain. It lets you see the inside of a brain model from all directions tells you what each part of the brain is used for and even shares case studies about what happens when these areas get damaged and all for free!

Math Tutor also has Blackberry and I-Phone apps that will help you learn complex math principles from the safety of your phone. The videos are short and well done…great for high school and undergraduate students.

HHMI has some terrific videos and podcasts as does the Dana Foundation. Happy downloading!

Art Wires Brain for Success Model

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself-Evian Gordon

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself Dr.Evian Gordon

By Amy Price PhD

The Brain Revolution is an international project which focuses on enabling children in impoverished areas to develop their brain potential. Many children are handicapped by cognitive deficits sustained during malaria bouts, AIDs infection,  dysentery, typhoid and poor nutrition. Even when these children were offered educational opportunities they were unable to take advantage of them until now because of delayed cognitive function

Young brains can recover much of what is lost through specialized training which encourages neuroplasticity or the restructuring of new learning patterns. Art partners with computerized brain training and personal mentoring to increase goal centered vision and learning potential. Art develops procedural and conceptual memory and in so doing can magnify a child’s sense of self and enhance their ability to negotiate the boundaries of the world that surrounds them. Art allows children to express passion, conflict and joy for which words are insufficient with dignity and privacy. Positioning children for inner success equips them to back themselves. The Brain Revolution provides transformation from the inside out by empowering children to celebrate their destinies. 

My husband and I were privileged to attend the Brain Art Exhibition of  Dr. Evian Gordon who is an international thought leader in the area of brain function and integrative neuroscience.  The photograph is me with Dr Gordon and his painting  ‘Fighting for Self ‘ This painting plus others and his excellent book Brain Revolution can be viewed and purchased here. Proceeds go to the Brain Revolution which is a non profit organization to empower children and the development of their brains.

I see this combination of computer training, mentoring and art as a significant therapy for people of all ages including those with other cognitive needs or for all of us who choose brain optimization

IQ, Poverty and Culture

Change Ethnic Poverty

Change Ethnic Poverty

Students of African American and Hispanic background were recently part of a pilot project using a novel system of cognitive assessment to assess children’s learning potential. It was developed by Professor Reuven Feuerstein. The assessment consists of a battery of six to eight tests which measure abstract thinking, analogies, and qualitative thinking and are not culturally-biased.

“Nationally, African American students are identified as educationally mentally retarded twice as often as their white peers; and African Americans are identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered one and a half times as often as their white peers. The actual number of these “BD” (Behavioral Disorder) diagnoses has increased by 500% between 1974 and 1998.”

Dr. Eric Cooper, President of the National Urban Alliance notes how unfortunate it is that “misdiagnosis of special education status has been used to place a significant number of children of color into programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement.”

Professor Feuerstein agrees and writes that “Too often we give up on children who are labeled with learning disabilities, but my work has found that using more creative techniques to teach these children will lead them to the same successes that life offers the other children in the classroom. Poverty is not destiny and we can reverse major depression in a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results.”

Feuerstein’s theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability “views the human organism as open, adaptive and amenable for change. The aim of this approach is to modify the individual, emphasizing autonomous and self-regulated change. Intelligence is viewed as a propensity of the organism to modify itself when confronted with the need to do so. Intelligence is defined as a changeable state rather than an immutable trait.”

Feuerstein’s claim that “poverty is not destiny” and that we can improve a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results is profoundly important. He asserts that the benefits to all of society cannot be overstated.

Let me give one example. It has been proposed by Dr. Paul Nussbaum that learning may act as a potential vaccine again Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain.

If we begin to think of learning as a process that improves health, like nutrition and exercise, then all students need to maximize their cognitive development. If tens and hundreds of thousands of poor children are placed in programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement and learning does act as a vaccine against age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, we are accelerating the rate of dementias.

Childhood poverty has already been linked to dementia. Author of the research, Dr Moceri, said that “a poor quality childhood environment could prevent the brain from reaching a complete level of maturation.” The areas of the brain that show the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s are the one that take the longest time to mature during childhood and adolescence.

There are more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s. This means that every 72 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. The indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually. Feuerstein’s International Center for the Enhancement of Learning works with children throughout the world. Plans are underway to start implementing the partnership in 20 U.S. cities. Educators, policy makers and journalists should follow the story carefully.

–Dr. Rohn Kessler

CEO and Founder Sparks Of Genius

Sustained Learning Power For Difficult Times

Reach Learning Potential

Reach Learning Potential

By Amy Price PhD

We are trained by what we see. The power to visualize can work for us or against us. This is why students who have a bad start seldom get up and why one bad relationship can lead to a negative lifestyle. If you watch the media around us or even UTube in a negative economic climate you will see a loss of hope and an increase in destructive images because people’s brains respond to  what they see.

An alternate title is “What you see on the inside produces consequences on the outside”. The Bible states this a couple of other ways “As an individual  thinks in his/her heart so is their destiny”   The prophets explained  the Israelites initial inability to enter the land of promise by saying  “They were like grasshoppers in their own sight and so they were the same in the eyes of others”.  

Science bears this out. According to integrative neuroscientist Evian Gordon (2001, 2008) minimizing danger and maximizing reward is a significant principle in how the brain organizes and in so doing impacts our lives. If a situation leads to a reward response such as positive emotions, words, or activities the brain engages and approaches or engages. When a situation brings up negative emotions or punishment the brain sends out an avoid response and detaches.

Learning is influenced by how we percieve ourselves. In one research study participants completed a paper maze that featured a mouse in the middle trying to reach a picture on the outside.  Half of the group saw a piece of the cheese as the picture to reach while others saw a predator.

The effect on learning the maze was astounding those that had the cheese picture solved more problems more creatively than those with the predator picture. (Friedman and Foster, 2001).  Other studies relate how people who specifically visualize and mentally practice winning have significant advantages over people who did not practice and in fact what they ‘thought” gave them a similar advantage to actually practicing (Logie and Denis ,1991)

Mental images have the power to change your life. The subconscious mind accepts these images as reality, and gradually you start to believe what you imagine, act accordingly, and unconsciously work toward making them a reality in your life. This can work for you or against you depending on how you visualize.

Practicing the paths to mental success can increase thinking power and allow routes to harness freedom and learning and increase your ability to act on what you see. If you visualize negative situations, difficulties and problem, and continue doing so, your moods will gradually become negative, you will alienate people, you will close your eyes to opportunities, and your self-esteem will go down.

At Sparks of Genius we offer positive solutions to increase your mental health and to sustain and multiply brain enhancement

Successful people attract success, because they constantly imagine and expect success. Mental images are like a movie or still pictures that you see in your mind. If you watch them again and again your subconscious mind will ultimately accept them as you reality. They will affect your thinking, relationships , and problem solving skills. To put it simply changing your movie can rock your world.

Using the power of mental  images involves learning to choose and cultivate positive life movies while editing out scenes  that diminish your confidence  to learn. I used to counsel  patients on how to change the scene in a nightmare to get a different ending. You can do the same thing in life.

Practice thought awareness, be aware of your thoughts. When you catch yourself visualizing negative life scenes that display you as weak, stupid or incompetent, stop the movie, eject it mentally   and put in a new movie  with a happy ending. When others deliver negative content edit it and delete events that do not support you and make you small. Visualize what you want and know is just  and what will make you happy and satisfied. Your mind is waiting on you for education, new vision and better habits.

It takes 30 days to change a habit so be patient and kind to yourself and remember that people who don’t care don’t matter. When I think back on those that have hurt me the details are faded,  but I will forever remember the kindness of a young woman and a stranger who without asking bent down to tie my shoes when I could not do it myself after a back injury. I was too proud to ask but she saw my need and wordlessly contributed to my life and added value. Think of movies where others showed you kindness and play these. See yourself as accomplishing your dreams and  accepting the rewards of your labor.

Life is like the movies…You produce your own show.  What you put in the hands of others will be multiplied to you…ask yourself what kind of movies am I contributing to others

For another way of seeing this  check out  articles on

 References :

Friedman R. and Foster J. (2001). The effects of promotion and prevention cues on creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1001-1013.

Gordon, E. (2000). Integrative Neuroscience: Bringing together biological, psychological and clinical models of the human brain. Singapore: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Gordon, E. et al. (2008), An “Integrative Neuroscience” platform: application to profiles of negativity and positivity bias, Journal of Integrative Neuroscience.

Robert H. Logie, Michel Denis 1991,Mental images in human cognition (Amsterdam, Netherlands) ; volume 80 of Studies in Surface Science and Catalysis

Memory and Music Connections

Brain, Music and Memory (Dr Janata 2009)

Brain, Music and Memory (Dr Janata 2009)

Music For Brain Enhancement

Brain on Music (Dr Janata)

By Amy Price PhD

We have found in our practice that music can trigger powerful memories even for people that have sustained brain damage and have lost the ability to speak. Sometimes stroke or TBI victims can sing fluently because the path to music is stored in a different area of the brain than the one used for recalling words. As a culture we understand the power of music and now a brain-scan study reveals where music makes its mark.
The part of the brain music activates is known as the medial pre-frontal cortex and sits just behind the forehead. “What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head.” said Dr. Janata, a cognitive neuroscientist at University of California, Davis. “It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye.”
Janata noticed the medial pre-frontal cortex showing the same kind of activity when In Janata’s study this area responded quickly to music rhythm and chord changes, but also reacted when tunes were autobiographically relevant. In addition music provoked the strongest activity in the brain when it was combined with autobiographical memories.

This latest research could explain why even Alzheimer’s patients who endure increasing memory loss can still recall songs from their distant past. It is thought that medial portion of the prefrontal cortex is less susceptible to atrophy according to Janata.
Music does not cure Alzheimer’s or fix TBI but can help patients recover precious memories, help with thought organization and improve quality of life.
Maybe the Apple a day for Alzheimer’s is the IPOD. Dr. Janata has a project underway to make that happen

References:• Janata, P. The neural architecture of music-evoked autobiographical memories. Cerebral Cortex. Advance Access published February 24, 2009, doi:10.1093/cercor/bhp008. For supplementary information, go to the Advance Access page and search for the article.
• Janata, P., Tomic, S. T., & Rakowski, S. K. (2007). Characterization of music-evoked autobiographical memories. Memory, 15(8), 845–860.

Memory Strategies

accessed from Joaquin M. Fuster (2007), Scholarpedia, 2(4):1644.

accessed from Joaquin M. Fuster (2007), Scholarpedia, 2(4):1644.

In MVA involving injury memory deficits can become an issue. Pain and lack of sleep contribute to this as do many of the medications prescribed to make it go away. There is anxiety and grief over financial loss or changed status. This compounds the issue. Each year more money is spent on pet food than for treatment to restore survivors of mild traumatic brain injury. Eighty percent of individuals diagnosed with mild brain injury have needs pertaining to the injury that are not presently met by current legislation. Treatment is described as too little, too late.

It was once thought that if there was no improvement in cognitive status in the first six months following an injury further progress would be minimal. Advances in science show this is no longer an absolute. Progress is possible.Every year Traumatic Brain Injury causes 20 times more disabilities than AIDS, Breast Cancer, Spinal Cord Injuries, and Multiple Sclerosis combined. Traumatic Brain Injuries have claimed more lives than all U.S. wars combined since 1977. Approximately 1.5 million Americans sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury each year. Traumatic Brain Injury is the number one cause of both death and disability in children and young adults.


Do you need help fixing your broken brain? Even if you don’t this article contains great strategies for improving memory skills and coping with life.
Want help with your memory? Let us look together at where the problem might be so we can suggest solutions. Information is first filtered through the senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling) or sensory memory. The sensory input combines with what we already know as the brain attempts to classify the information before it is encoded into our memories. Before it can be encoded accurately we have to pay attention or attend to it. The brain has only a few seconds of what is called working memory to encode material. When the information is needed we call on it to come out. This process is called retrieval.


Retrieval can be enhanced by rehearsal. The most common kind of rehearsal is saying something like a phone number over and over until it sticks in the brain. This is a problem for a person with memory deficits as by the time they get to the last number they forget what it is! In this case there is an unorthodox but useful strategy called chunking, instead of remembering numbers digit by digit such as 301 5700 think of three hundred one, fifty seven hundred. There are other solutions, write information down while repeating it to your self or ask someone else to write it for you. This is most useful when someone is giving you directions. The next step is to read the information back to who ever you got it from and ask them if your version is correct. This is also good for reinforcing understanding in conversation as sometimes what someone says to us is different to what we heard them say or is not what they meant.

To deal with problems of losing things here is some help. Pick places where you are comfortable storing things like keys, licenses etc. Make it a habit to always put them back in those places only. Write down where these places are and put it somewhere you will see it everyday in case you forget. When you go to a store only take something that can be attached to your body, forget about the purse that could be left in the shopping cart or car keys you carry in your hands.
When the memory is less than stellar even a parking lot can seem like a hopeless maze. Most cell phones have voice recorders on them as do many other devices. Record where you parked the car, for example the car is at exit c parking lot level three, third car down. Pay attention to which store you enter and what is close to the door, for example Macy’s, men’s shoes. This way if you get lost you can ask someone where these landmarks are and find your way.

Here is another strategy A piece of paper/card with a grid (kids math jotter paper with the little blocks) with place for a couple of stores names around the periphery or a land marks/monument, a McDonalds or a gas station and make an X in the block of the area where you best estimate your car is. A good place to put ID, credit card, money, parking lot stubs is in a ‘fanny pack’. If you can not remember how to get somewhere or get home buy a turn by turn GPS or phone a non judgmental friend.

There are many kinds of memory, visual auditory episodic, semantic, conceptual and more. This is good news because it means that you can use another kind of memory to enhance which ever kind is not working for you right now.

Here are some useful strategies. To remember an event think about what else you did, where it happened, the conditions around the event, ask your self how you felt that day, who was with you even what you did afterwards. Anyone of these can release a cue to help you remember.
To remember Peoples’ names, think about where you first met the person or go through the alphabet mentally, sometimes it helps to recall their significant others’ names or occupation. Just one piece of information can trigger the missing link. If all else fails ask them for a business card and read it or ask how they spell their names.

Learning something?-To remember something you need to learn, teach it to someone else, read your notes on tape and play them as you walk or at the gym, create a mind map or make the information into a story. Trouble finding words, look up a word that means the same in a good dictionary usually the synonyms will be displayed and your missing word will show up. A good dictionary can also show you how to pronounce words you have forgotten how to say. Forget how to spell it and spell check is not bright enough to figure it out? Break the word into syllables and spell the part you can figure out, from here spell check may pick it up or you may remember the whole word.

In the kitchen-For kitchen memories….don’t leave the room or be otherwise distracted when you have a pot on the stove. The same people that distracted you will remind you over and over about how you forgot something again! Do one thing at a time until your memory is healed, your ability to multitask will usually return. Buy appliances that turn off automatically, this may be expensive initially however it is cheaper than a house fire! Discipline yourself to use timers.
Often individuals forget steps of a process/task. In this case it is useful to lay everything out ahead of time. Think through what steps you need to take to complete a process/task. If this is difficult get someone to help you and write it down or record it for yourself.

For schedules…got an appointment write it down, put it on the computer, in the day timer or on a PDA. Another method is to call your telephone answering service and leave your self messages as they come up. Alternately make a list and number it for priorities then cross them off when you are finished. Too busy to prioritize…you are too busy! Make changes or you will get buried.
I Hope this helps some, nobody remembers everything so don’t beat yourself up. Keep working at it slowly and surely the more you use your brain the better it will get.