Taking action gives hope for those with memory lossBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/memory-loss/MY00928
- With Mayo Clinic health education outreach coordinator
Angela Lunderead biographyclose window
Angela LundeAngela LundeAngela Lunde is a dementia education specialist in the education core of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Abigail Van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The transfer of information about dementias, as well as understanding the need for participation in clinical trials, is an essential component of the education core.
Angela is a member of the Alzheimer's Association board of directors and co-chair of the annual Minnesota Dementia Conference. She is a member of the Dementia Behavior Assessment and Response Team (D-BART), a multidisciplinary outreach service assisting professional and family caregivers in understanding and managing difficult behaviors often present in dementia. She facilitates several support groups, including Memory Club, an early-stage education and support series, and more recently, helped to develop and now deliver Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking (HABIT), a 10-day cognitive rehab and wellness program for people with mild cognitive impairment.
Angela takes a personal interest in understanding the complex changes that take place within relationships and among families when dementia is present. She is particularly interested in providing innovative and accessible ways for people with dementia and their families to receive information and participate in valuable programs that promote well-being.
"Amid a devastating disease, there are tools, therapies, programs and ways to cope, and it is vital that families are connected to these resources," she says.
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Sept. 9, 2009
Taking action gives hope for those with memory loss
By Angela Lunde
For two weeks last month, I spent several hours a day with 13 persons living with mild cognitive impairment or early stage dementia and their care partners, in a program called HABIT (Healthy Actions to Benefit Independence and Thinking).
The 10-day program involves daily cognitive compensation training, brain fitness activities, support groups, wellness education, and a fitness/movement program. HABIT builds on the strength that persons with mild memory problems often retain the ability to learn new habits.
These specific "habits" — if practiced consistently — may help compensate for memory loss, possibly extending independence and improving self efficacy. I'll write more about HABIT in an upcoming blog. For general information, visit the resources tab on this page.
The 26 individuals who participated in HABIT last month shared some common reasons for doing so. First, they believed that an early diagnosis doesn't help much if you don't understand what it means or what to do. They came with many questions and uncertainties about their diagnosis. Second, they were committed to doing something to make the situation better. Taking action gave them hope.
It's difficult to describe what transpired in the two weeks and almost fifty hours we spent together, but clearly relationships grew and genuine bonds were made. Many faced for the first time the challenging step of accepting their diagnosis or that of their loved one. Care partners began the process of adapting to a new "normal" and although not easy, found immeasurable comfort in one another.
Some began to look at what may lie ahead with both a sense of empowerment and an appreciation for living fully in the present. Persons with memory loss gained a renewed sense that they're individuals with rich experiences, accomplishments, and spirit, and that a diagnosis of memory loss doesn't take that away.
I'm sure my words can't fully capture the experience for these individuals or the profound wisdom they offered me or one another. Nevertheless, I'll conclude with some of their words that will stay in my heart for a very long time.
"I am now open to our new life and prepared emotionally to move forward." — Spouse of someone with mild cognitive impairment
"The disease has given me the gift of loving my husband all over again." — Spouse of someone with mild cognitive impairment
"I find Alzheimer's so freeing, you don't have to remember yesterday or tomorrow, you just live today." — Person with early stage dementiablog index