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Playing Video Games Could Stave Off Alzheimer’s

You can stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease by enjoying some of the active video games so popular with the youngsters. So says new research into this activity and the disease. According to scientists, games that involve you getting physical exercise, like those available for Xbox Kinect and the Wii boost your brain as you ageThe study comes in the wake of the news that there are now games that can be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease, and it is clear that this condition is garnering a greater amount of attention from those in the tech and medical sphere.

Just 15 Minutes a Day Will Do the Trick

A study of nearly 1000 people, most of whom were pensioners, found that just playing the so-termed excergames just 15 minutes a day, 3 times a week, could help in keeping our brains healthy and sharp as we age.

In the first study of this kind, scientists in Britain reviewed the effect that a host of exergames had on overall brain health by pooling all the data available from previous trails. These included people in their 60s, those in their 70s, and even some in their 80s cybercycling, playing Wii and Nintendo sports games, taking part in video games that required them to dance, and even kayaking in 3-dimensional lakes. It was found that these activities provided far more benefits than simple exercises, like brisk walking, did. The scientists reported that the combination of coordination and physical effort these games asked of participants really did improve mental functioning.

Not Just Alzheimer’s, Either

This kind of activity could also assist in protection against dementia and a variety of other neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, as well, and boost brain functioning in people who already are suffering with strains of neurological impairment.

The study included a total of 17 clinical trials which examined the effects of active gaming on our cognitive skills, examining 926 people ranging in age from their 30s through to their 80s.

Joseph Firth, a psychologist from Manchester University, was quoted as saying that, as we age, various brain functions decline naturally, including those related to concentration, spatial awareness, and memory. Various neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia are also a cause of our cognitive function decline, and this leads to a reduction in our ability to accomplish everyday tasks, he added.

Firth Fascinated by the Evidence of Gaming on Cognitive Functioning

Firth went on to state that the scientists had been amazed to see, thanks to the available evidence as a result of this study, how these kinds of games were able to very significantly improve our overall cognitive functioning. He stated that the games were particularly beneficial for executive functioning, visuo-spatial abilities, and attention.

The participants played the games around 3 times a week for about 10 weeks on average, with each session lasting between 15 and 60 minutes.

Seven studies made use of the Nintendo Wii exergaming system, and 4 made use of the interactive dance games with platforms that are pressure-sensitive being used to respond to visual cues for foot movements. Three others put interactive cycling/treadmill training into the spotlight, and had participants completing various tasks, or avoiding obstacles placed in their way while they pedalled or walked around the various tracks. Another made use of VR kayaking, which required participants to coordinate their upper-body movements in order to navigate through virtual rivers and lakes.

Exergames clearly have multiple benefits, and the fact that they are fun doesn’t hurt them either.

Real Life Case Study – Angela

What was life like before Aspire?

Angela lived at home alone, was terminally ill but wanted to remain as independent as possible. She wanted to be at home and needed reliable carers that would be able to increase the number of calls when the need arose. This would allow her to remain in her own home until the end. She was also looking for a company where she could have the same carers as much as possible so that she would not need to worry about who would be entering her home.

 

What did Aspire do?

Aspire wanted Angela to feel in control of her care and allow her to be as independent as she wanted and was possible. Her carers were introduced to her as her calls were increased from once a day to four times a day. Her dignity was preserved whilst she was given the support that she wanted and needed to remain in her own home. We worked alongside the  district and palliative care nurses to ensure she received the best possible care and was comfortable at all times.

 

What was the outcome?

Angela was able to remain at home until the end of her life, just as she wished.  Her family were able to spend quality time with her during this time and got to know the carers by name. They felt supported and grateful for the care that was provided and all the carers Angela’s funeral service.

Aspire Carers keep Lily afloat!

Despite being 94 years of age, Lily Ball still manages to enjoy a busy life with the support of Aspire Home Carers.
I joined Aspire Carer, Amanda Golding, on one of her regular visits to see Lily, provide companionship and organise her lunch.
Sprightly, engaging and enjoying walks around her sumptuous Saltwood garden, Lily has even embarked on a book of her life-story. Her only health concern is glaucoma and macro-degeneration in her eyesight, for which she needs her eyes washed and drops applied twice a day.
Born in 1923, her son-in-law is putting the autobiography together, and they are currently writing about her war experiences with prompts from her diaries – so there is a considerable way to go yet!
Amanda and the other conscientious Aspire carers, visit once or twice a day depending Lily’s requirements, as one of her three daughters conveniently lives in the village as well.
“We can fit in around Lily’s and the family’s schedule and needs,” said Amanda, who has been with Aspire for four years. “Our role is to provide companionship by sharing stories, and also to recognise the importance for Lily to be able to talk about her memories – and she still does so with great humour!”
Lily maintains a busy schedule of outings and visits to fill her days. She goes to the Kent Association for the Blind once a month; bible study once a month; she goes out with friends and has them visit for tea; has a weekly visit from her hairdresser; she’s a member of the Camera Club which shows films regularly and her social life is enriched by family events such as birthday parties, Christenings, and weddings.
“Having the Aspire girls come to see me makes a tremendous difference to my life,” Lily told me. “I know when they will be here, and I check the clock and they are always arrive when they say.”
She orders her meals from the Oakhouse home delivery service once a month and Aspire staff prepare what she wants on the day.
Lily moved to Saltwood in 1966 when her husband’s insurance company relocated from London to Folkestone, and they celebrated a Diamond Wedding anniversary before he died in 2013.
But it was clear from my visit to meet Lily that Aspire makes a significant contribution to the quality of her life to enable her to live it to the full!

Angela- May 2016

What was life like before Aspire?

Angela lived alone at home, was terminally ill but wanted to stay as independent as possible. She wanted to be at home and needed reliable carers that would be able to increase the number of calls when the need arose This would allow her to remain in her own home until the end. She was also looking for a company where she could have the same carers as often as possible so that she would not need to worry about who was entering her home.

What did Aspire do?

Aspire wanted Angela to be in control of her care and allow her to be as independent as she wanted and was possible. Her carers were introduced to her as her calls were increased from once a day to four times a day. Her dignity was preserved whilst she was given the support she wanted and needed to remain in her own home. We worked alongside the district and palliative care nurses to ensure that she received the best possible care and was comfortable at all times.

What was the outcome?

Angela was able to remain at home until the end of her life, just as she wished. Her family were able to spend quality time with her during this time and got to know the carers by name. They felt supported and grateful for the care that was provided and all the carers attended Angela’s funeral service.

Real life case studies. Edith January 2016

What was life like before Aspire?

Edith lived at home with her husband, who had become her main carer after a private carer had proved to be unreliable. As a result, her husband was finding it extremely challenging to care for her 24 hours a day and also to find some time for himself.He enjoyed gardening and was not able to do this. Edith was also resistant to anyone helping with her personal care needs, so her health and hygiene were beginning to decline. She was determined to preserve her dignity and independence and she could often get annoyed and frustrated. This was made worse as Edith often found it hard to communicate verbally.Indeed Edith did suffer from quite advanced dementia.

What did Aspire do?

Aspire’s aim was to ensure that Edith felt in control and was respected whilst addressing her health and well being needs. Trained carers were slowly introduced to Edith and began working with her each morning to support her with washing and dressing. They found it better to not wear a uniform and helped her to select the clothes she would like to wear, before reminding her to get into the shower. Edith had one main carer who visited her three times a week and some of her time was spent keeping Edith company. They would often bake cakes, watch game shows or have a walk round the garden.

What were the outcomes?

Edith developed a genuine friendship with her main carer. The family felt that this was because the carer provided some continuity and were happy with the support provided. This particularly impacted on Edith’s husband who could have some regular respite and spend time in the garden. Both Edith and her husband found a new sense of independence, relaxation and happiness whilst being supported by Aspire

Continuing Care

What is continuing care?
NHS continuing healthcare is a package of ongoing care that is arranged and funded by the NHS where the individual has been found to have a ‘primary health need'(following their criteria guidelines). Such care is provided to an individual aged over 18, to meet needs that have arisen as a result of disability, accident or illness.

Where does the care take place?
This package of care can be in a care setting or in a person’s own home.

How do they decide who is eligible?
Any decision about whether someone is eligible for NHS continuing healthcare is based only on their needs. A CCG(Clinical Commissioning Group)continuing healthcare co-coordinator, or if the person is in hospital, other medical staff will arrange an assessment of the person’s needs.

What is ‘Fast -track’?
People who are nearing the end of their life, specifically those with a rapidly deteriorating condition that may be entering a terminal phase, may be assessed as having a primary health need. They may urgently need NHS continuing healthcare funding e.g. to allow them to go home to die or to allow end of life support to be set up.

How do I get an assessment?
To request an assessment you contact your local CCG and ask for the NHS continuing healthcare co-coordinator. You can find out the name of this co-coordinator at your local GP surgery or through your local patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

What causes dementia?

Alzheimer’s disease is the best known type of dementia. Half of all people with dementia have this condition, in which brain cells are damaged and destroyed by plaques and tangles.

Improving Dementia Care

Aspire Home Carers is a small and privately run homecare company that focuses on providing caring and compassionate care to elderly people, particularly those with dementia. As a company we believe more could be done to improve dementia services, as well as support for those who care for people with dementia.