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Research Benefits

Research on Cognitive Stimulation Through Activity for Dementia

MAKS Alzheimer Activities Therapy

Research published in the journal BMC Medicine showed that daily group activity therapy for elderly dementia patients can delay progression of the dementia. The therapy also proved to be at least as good, if not better, as treatment with routine dementia medications.

The research was conducted by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. 61 dementia patients in nursing homes took either their regular treatment for dementia, or took their regular treatment in addition to doing “MAKS” therapy for two hours a day, six days a week. Everyone did their assigned therapies for one year.

The MAKS group therapy sessions included: motor stimulation (M), such as bowling and balance exercises; activities of daily living (A), like making snacks and gardening; cognitive stimulation (K), including puzzles; and a spiritual element, where the group discussed happiness or singing a song.

After one year of therapy the MAKS group remained stable with their cognitive function (as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale or ADAS). The MAKS group also remained stable with their ability to complete daily activities. On the other hand, the control group patients showed a decrease in both of these areas.

Cochrane Research Review of Cognitive Stimulation Exercises for Dementia Patients

All research trials provided mental ‘exercises’ or activities to the patients. Examples included word games, puzzles, music, discussion of current and past events, and everyday activities, such as baking or gardening. Trained staff led the groups, consisting of 4 to 5 people with dementia for around 45 minutes, at least twice a week.

Evidence in the studies showed that cognitive stimulation programs improve memory and thinking test scores in people with mild to moderate dementia with a benefit that is “over and above any medication effects”. In addition, there was reported improved quality of life for the subjects and increased communication abilities.

The review called for further studies to determine how long the effects of the cogntive stimulation program last and for how long the stimulation should be continued.

People with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia gradually begin to lose independence with daily life activities and the desire to do things. They may sit all day, watch tv, fall asleep, or become restless and anxious. The fact is that patients with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, have different needs to stay active and engaged, as the disease progresses. Having the right type of activity jigsaw puzzle is essential and can help to minimize behaviors, improve quality of life, and slow the rate of cognitive decline, as they are able to stay active in a way that makes sense for them.

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Here are our main tips to help you before using the puzzle

Create the environment

Before starting an activity, make. sure you are in a clear, quiet and familiar space where there are no distractions such as television or noise

Introduce the idea

Suggest the activity in an open way so the person feels confident and supported enough to try it ;”should we try this jigsaw?” or “could you help me …”

Give reassurance

Inspire confidence and remove the worry about getting an activity wrong; “It doesn’t matter if you get it wrong, it just a bit of fun” or “let’s see how we get on”

Be very patient

Allow the person plenty of time, it may take someone five minutes to place a single jigsaw piece, try to resist the temptation to jump in and do it yourself!

Keep trying

Don’t worry or give up if it doesn’t work first time. Every day is different so try again another time or try a different approach and soon enough you’ll see that spark!

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