After The Sunflower Flower Dies Does The Plant Dies Teaching Those in the Venerable Years – Mental Fitness For Older Adults

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Teaching Those in the Venerable Years – Mental Fitness For Older Adults

I feel that aging is a failure, if I do it right I can avoid aging, even death. What a fantastic idea! Some of our ideas are that we are no longer sexy, vibrant, juicy as we age. Sometimes when I walk into a room I feel like I’m invisible, or worse, an outcast. -Lee Lipp

I am well aware that I am getting old. By the way, I used to say “old”, but now when I’m asked in interviews, “How old are you?” I reply, “Well, I grew up in China in a time when age was respected, so I’m a respectable eighty-six.” – Huston Smith

I have found that respecting the elderly is my education for older adults. It is this attitude of respect, attention, patience and love that makes my education worthwhile and hopefully of some service. In the late 60s when it wasn’t hip to trust anyone over 30, I subtly discounted their superior value. Fortunately, I soon learned to appreciate the wisdom and prosperity of the older generation while at the same time being able to think for myself.

As a child, I found older adults fascinating, somewhat mysterious, and enjoyed their company when not playing sports or school. When I was in grammar school, I visited old neighbors who didn’t seem to have young people around. One day I was walking by a rather run-down, large house where “Mrs. Davenport” was trimming some bushes in her front yard. She lived alone and felt lonely. She was also known to be a mean prankster, and at times instilled fear in the children who played pranks on her. But on this particular occasion, she asked me if I would help her pick up some trimmings in the wheelbarrow, which I did, giving her a suspicious look, some of the boys saying she was a bona fide witch.

Apart from her innocent face, I didn’t feel bad for her at all. Her comments on plants, flowers, trees, squirrels, rabbits, muskrats, dogs and cats began to fascinate me. She never talked about the other people except to say that a group of “luzzie boys” had thrown stones at her dogs. After I finished, she invited me to enjoy some freshly baked cookies. That was the beginning of our friendship. I started visiting her, walking down the long driveway, knocking on her door, and entering magical conversations about topics new to me. I looked through her photo albums and observed her “favorite contraption”. Once I opened the painted music box, which was studded with black and orange butterflies with white dots–I was surprised when a melodious melody escaped from the box, delighting Mrs. Davenport, her face softening noticeably.

Now I respect my old students, naturally, as much as I greet my family when they come home from a trip. Living, learning and teaching with older adults is a joy for me. I’m learning that our brains are flexible, we can “stretch” our minds just as we stretch our bodies, even as we age. Neuroscientists call this ability of the brain to adjust itself “brain plasticity”. The course I teach through the Adult School, at rest hospitals, is called “Mental Fitness”.

In classes with our respected seniors, we offer exercises (including simple tai chi), music and singing, arts and crafts, academics (history-geography; language arts; maths life skills), puzzles, lively trivia questions and answers, video documentaries. and educational films. We create an environment where seniors can remain mentally active, at any level, for as long as possible.

In convalescent hospital-hospice different animals are brought to my class. Of course some clients don’t want to be intimate with any animal, yet many find it very fun and exciting, like having an instant “friend”. There is no judgment about being old. Hairy people feel comfortable to many customers, in what can be an isolated, colorless environment. A 93-year-old resident happily interacts with a fat kitty cat; So excited for her. Animals light up the classroom.

We discuss health and nutrition. We review studies—such as Dr. A study by Andrew Weil—who recommends that seniors eat plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, such as blueberries. and to include anti-inflammatory vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, beans, oatmeal, rich pasta, peas, wheat germ, rice bran) and vitamin E (found in spinach, sunflower seeds, whole grains, wheat germ); Also omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, flax-seed oil, walnuts, supplements that provide these fatty acids). Dr. Weil cites a study by scientists at the University of Irvine (including mice) showing that DHA (omega-3 fatty acid) delays the development of protein “tangles” in brain cells and also reduces levels of beta amyloid. (cf. The Journal of Neuroscience, April 18, 2007)

Research suggests that doing activities such as academic “trivia,” learning a language, or playing a musical instrument can help build up reserve brain cells to combat the decline of mental ability. So we play trivia and word games both verbally and in writing. We encourage imagination, creating mental pictures associated with information, using our attention and memory, still learning and “connecting” and “reconnecting”.

Some convalescent homes and senior adult programs have computers with programs like “Positive Brain Fitness.” Computers provide effective exercise to sharpen the minds of the elderly. I did a few sessions from Posit Science’s brain fitness course where me and my colleagues and sister seniors did different exercises to listen more attentively, focus and concentrate, improve our ability to process information and slowly remember large amounts of information. . For example, we distinguish different sounds; We remember details in stories. We’re experiencing how our brains can change when we’re paying attention, improving the speed at which we process information and increasing our ability to communicate more effectively. I have done five different exercises: 1. “High or low?” Helps speed up sound processing, so the brain can also respond to fast speech in conversation; 2. “Tell Us Apart” gives the brain practice separating similar sounds so it can better interpret the spoken word while storing clear memories; 3. “Match it!” helps the brain to remember better, because the brain processes sounds more clearly; 4. “Audio replay” stimulates the brain to remember the information in the order it was presented; 5. “Listen and do” exercises short-term memory, which is important in most cognitive tasks involving thinking.

“Dakim’s [m] Power” is another computer-based program that helps reduce memory loss through “matching” and “word” games, answering questions. Multiple levels of activities are available: “for high functioning,” “mild cognitive impairment” and “dementia” for those with dementia. .” Seniors can review history or geography or watch old movie clips where they are asked to remember settings, characters, and actions. Some hospitals and senior centers use the world of the Internet to find information of interest. , e-mail and chat.

Sadly, many of our students already suffer from the clogging plaques (amyloid) in the brain and the protein tangles of advanced Alzheimer’s and other dementias that greatly limit memory and cognition and can manifest in behavioral abnormalities. But Alzheimer’s also doesn’t exclude meaningful educational and social interactions, even at a basic level. We continue to reassure, communicate, creatively stimulate, listen, accompany, teach and learn from them. We have fun and laugh together even in the midst of this intense-horrible grief of gradually diminishing mental capacity.

Our students are often confused, disoriented, incoherent, alienated, angry, withdrawn, in a slowly deteriorating situation. Their thoughts do not appear to be expressed through their words. Some of our students seem “out of it”. We are aware of changing needs and need to be adaptable, responsive and understanding. It is sometimes confusing; We accept them all. These students are losing nerve cells associated with learning, judgment, memory. Acetylcholine—a chemical used to transmit messages by nerve cells—is dramatically decreasing.

One of my students greeted me every morning with a confused look: “I can’t remember what I forgot to tell you.” Her daughter used to visit her in class, but she had to tell him that she was her daughter every time. She loves going to class, especially singing and humming old songs; playing catch with a soft ball; listening to stories However, sometimes she would sit with a blank expression on her face. J. Madeleine Nash writes: “Imagine your brain as a house full of lights. Now imagine someone turning off the lights one by one. That’s what Alzheimer’s does. It turns off the lights so that ideas, feelings, and memories can flow. From room to room slows down and eventually stops.” (Time Magazine, July 17, 2000) Although we cannot stop this process in our students, we do our best to be with them, keeping the lights of their care burning.

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