12 Mar 5 mental exercises to improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients
The best way to stimulate cognitive activity in someone that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is putting your mind to work. Here are 5 exercises to do at home to help people affected by this disease make new neuron connections and improve their short term memory.
Let smell transport you back in time
The brain works in mysterious ways, establishing relationships that go beyond logic. For example, without needing to think about it, a song can take you back to a certain time in your life, or a smell can immediately remind you of a specific person or place.
Unlike the other senses, smell can be stored in your memory without having to pass through other parts of the brain. Therefore, you can remember information, moments or people by associating them with a smell.
Alzheimer’s patients can stimulate their memory by associating a smell with a specific task. For example, the smell of coffee at the start of the day may be associated with a moment that they shared with their family. Alzheimer’s patients may also associate a perfume to a specific person; there are exercises where patients try to recall the name of a person by smelling their perfume.
Everyone’s experiences are different and you have to find out what specific scents hold memories for your loved one.
Retracing your steps
This exercise can help improve short-term and long-term memory. It is a simple a practical method to stimulate a greater level of concentration and observation, not just for Alzheimer’s patients, but for everyone.
Just before the patient goes to sleep, go over everything they did that day from the moment they woke up. You can help them remember if necessary, but ask them to repeat what you just said and ask them related questions, such as: Who came to visit you? What color clothes were you wearing? What did you eat?
Try to carry out the exercise in chronological order and in as much detail as possible. This may seem complicated at the beginning, but you will soon see how much it helps patients to visualize in detail what they did that day.
Using the opposite hand
Encourage the patient to use their less dominant hand, meaning, if they are right-handed, ask them to brush their teeth, pick up cutlery, brush their hair, or hold an object with their left hand.
This exercise will stimulate the opposite side of the brain, which may result in significant and rapid expansion in the parts of the cerebral cortex that are responsible for processing tactile information, which in turn, can improve mental health.
Touching and recognizing
Just like how our sense of smell passes above certain processes in the brain, our sense of touch can also trigger feelings and memories.
Put some objects in a bag and invite the patient to touch and identify the objects without looking at them. As our brain generally needs to see in order to distinguish between objects, using touch to identify subtle differences increases stimulation in areas of the brain that process tactile information, strengthening synapses (connections between neurons) in the brain.
Switch up everyday tasks
When we become accustomed to doing certain activities systematically, we no longer need to concentrate or even think about them when we´re doing them. This can be very useful for carrying out certain tasks, but if you focus more on what you´re doing, you improve your concentration and mental processes.
Higher levels of concentration are brought about by a change in routine. Therefore, we recommend incorporating small changes every now and then into Alzheimer’s patients´ routines.
If, for example, they usually start their day with a shower, give them breakfast first some days. When they go out for a walk, take different routes. Do something different, such as rearranging the furniture in their room.
This will improve their concentration, forcing the brain to get rid of old habits and encouraging the patient to pay attention.
Simple exercises activate patients´ minds will improve their memory and their overall quality of life.
Cannabidiol (CBD) and its links to memory
This substance is derived from the hemp plant and doesn’t trigger a psychoactive effect or any sort of intoxication, but it does help the neuron regeneration process. Generally, in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, nerve tissue deteriorates rapidly. CBD stimulated neural tissue, which can slow the onset of effects produced by neuron damage (drastic changes in personality, forgetting learned information and memory loss). Therefore, CBD can be an effective way to treat this disease.
Hemp oil is an ideal option for those looking for relief of symptoms without any psychoactive side effects. Orally administered hemp oil is an easy and effective for Alzheimer’s patients to consume CBD.
If you would like to receive more information about the role of Cannabidiol CBD in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, click here