Dementia: The Challenge of Neuroplasticity

Maureen’s recovery from stroke is remarkable.  As I have said on many occasions when people meet her for the first time there are three things they do not believe: how old she is, that she has had a stroke and she has a diagnosis of dementia.  I would gamble that even the most astute psychologist would struggle to spot the symptoms when she has energy.  When she tires the signs of brain damage would be clear to the uninitiated.  What I am pondering this morning is do we continue with more of the same or move forward with a new agenda?  Well I have a cunning plan with Christmas looming we have a natural focus for what I have called our personal integrated stimulation therapy. 

Since coining IICST I have wandered into the field of neuroplasticity.  In simple terms my thinking has been moved on from the ‘use it or lose it’ approach to considering how the brain can heal itself.  I now realise I would be selling Maureen short if I just tried to keep her stimulated.  Preparing for Christmas can be fun and there is lots of ‘use it or lose it’ activities that can be undertaken in the build up to Santa’s arrival.  Buying presents and sending cards will build confidence but may not reach the parts that neuroplasticity offers: with ‘the sky being the limit’.

I have to confess that neuroplasticity is an extremely new concept to me, and I am far from well read on the subject.  From my cursory coverage of the subject two activities leap out at me from the screen of my tablet: learning a language and dancing.  They both offer the opportunity to learn something new and switch on something in the brain that leads to the equivalent of rewiring and the brain healing itself.  I hope those better read on the subject than I  will forgive this simplistic explanation.

The beauty of dancing and French are that we could naturally drift in that direction on these dark nights. We have all we all the material we need at our disposal and YouTube offers even more opportunities.  Astute readers of my Blog might well say he has said all this before: his rhetoric is strong but why doesn’t he just get on with it rather than pontificating?  Well when your wife decides to rest her eyes mid- afternoon and stays in bed for the rest of the night then it is a question of choosing the right moment My challenge is  spotting when Maureen has energy and knowing when she just needs to rest.  What’s life without it’s little challenges?  My conscience wouldn’t allow me to sit back accepting the limitations of departmental budgets and watching the inevitable progression of Maureen’s dementia!

About Remember Me

I am a retired adult educator. My wife had a stroke in February 2014 and now has mixed dementia. Her recovery from stroke has been exceptional apart from 50% loss of peripheral vision and vascular damage. 'Dharma For Dementia' is my approach to being Maureem's Care Partner: it aims to end the suffering of 'Prescribed Disengagement' (Swaffer) .
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