This is part 3 in a 4-part series on the 4 Pillars of the Clear Mind Center Alzheimer’s reversal lifestyle.
We employ physical trainers, life coaches and lifestyle coaches. We are all about encouraging people and making sure that they are seen and heard, and are participating in activities. A big part of this, in addition to our brain-healing activities, we also exercise and move our bodies.
So what we do in the morning is after breakfast, we start off with a morning walk and we get our bodies moving. We socialize, we’re talking, we’re looking at the sky, we’re looking at plants, noticing the details. We’re talking about the morning routine and getting excited for the day. This is a really great way to start your morning.
We live in a beautiful, really calm and quiet neighborhood. The residents comment that there is no traffic. They feel safe walking up and down the street and in the neighborhood. It is so important for them to feel safe where they’re walking. We want them to do plenty of it!
Meditation and Daily Chronicles
Every morning we do a 12 minute meditation, after our walk when we come inside. It relieves stress, reduces tension, and supports a healthy mood. It supports healing changes in brain patterns and there is scientific evidence that it supports cognitive function.
The Daily Chronicles
We orient everyone to the date and day of the week. We also talk about important things that happened on this day in history. For some residents, it is personal. They have a child or spouse who was born that day or a wedding. Other days have important historical significance like the moon landing and our residents remember where they were and share their stories with each other. We have them write in little booklets to make sure that we are practicing writing and also to help jog memory later on in the day. The act of writing things down and using the muscle memory of writing supports memory.
When our residents write in their own handwriting and they refer back to it later—it helps them to remember a little bit more and realize, I actually wrote this! I wrote this down. And then they can talk to their families about it later in the day when they ask, like, what did you do throughout the day?
Arts and Crafts
We also do a lot of arts and crafts. This helps get creative juices flowing and multiple senses involved. Residents enjoy collage making, scrapbooking, painting—and it’s really fun and engaging for them. We usually have music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s playing. It is a social activity where the residents connect over a shared project all while helping with fine motor skills. It is really fun.
We collect all of the artwork the residents have done and it is fun to see the progress over time. They get better at it. Their spatial awareness on a blank canvas sharpens. It is inspiring to see progress and how individuals improve through the whole program. Some residents paint more clearly, do more painting on their own. It’s really fascinating to see the progress.
We host a live musician a couple times per month. We love seeing everyone get up and dance to Elvis or the Beatles. Live music is always something the residents really look forward to. Who wouldn’t?
Daily Physical Exercise, Supervised‘LiveO2’
The resident gets on a stationary bike and we help them put on an oxygen mask. And the bag to the side fills up with concentrated oxygen. On the bike there is a switch that can go from positive to negative. And so we go back and forth between the switches, but the positive is just concentrated oxygen. The negative makes you feel like you are at altitude and it causes your vessels to vasodilate as your body is searching for that oxygen.
We use a pulse oximeter that we put on the finger. When we get it down to about 85-88 percent oxygen we flip the switch back to positive. And there is additional oxygen delivery to their body—to their brain—because of that vasodilation.
Caregivers and activities specialists at Marama have been trained to engage fully with the residents, making sure they are clearly communicating, repeating instructions and slowing down. The caregiver’s goal is to be sure the residents feel encouraged and reassured as they try new things. It can be very scary for the residents. They don’t really know what to expect. It can also just be uncomfortable. When the primary goal is more about making the resident feel comfortable all the goals of participation happen soon after.
We see this with our new residents as they move in; there’s a bit of a hump that we have to get over. At Marama we just have one resident move in at a time. We never have more than one unless they are a couple. It really does take extra work on the caregiver’s part, but also has the potential to bring down the feeling in the community if there are too many new residents acclimating to the Marama routines.
The other residents are great at welcoming new residents. Dr. G recently said to me, “We need to have a preamble,” He wanted to write a little synopsis telling new residents to just stick with it. Just get through it. Don’t question everything. Don’t criticize everything. Just get through that hard part because at the other end, there’s clarity and better mood, more energy, better sleep—all of these things are up and over that hump!
We encourage all of you caregivers at home. Thank you for doing the hard work that you are doing because we know that this process isn’t always comfortable. The quicker you can dive fully in, the quicker the discomfort is over. We have that luxury of full immersion at Marama so it only lasts about three weeks or so.
What I see at the clinic is that when people are doing it at home, it often can last a bit longer because it’s a more drawn-out process. It’s not like that quick process when you’re fully immersed.
This is brain therapy via infrared lights on a cap that penetrates through the skull. There’s also a nasal clip and there’s a light in there too. That will go up the nasal sinuses into the brain. This simulates mitochondria to create ATP which is energy for your whole body, and your brain consumes a lot of it. Our brains are energy hogs. They need lots of ATP.
Mike Hamblin, a Harvard researcher has published extensively on the benefits of red light therapy. There’s also extensive published literature out of Russia, and more and more people are adopting this red light therapy. It is very safe and seems to be effective.
The benefits are more obvious with more severely affected residents. The lower the MOCA scores, the quicker we see benefits, sometimes in just 20 minutes. With our residents who are less progressed we don’t notice differences we can say are just the redlight therapy day-to-day, but over the course of time, we’re seeing dramatic benefits. And so we certainly think based on the literature that the red light therapies including the VieLight and the Joovv Light we have at Marama are contributing to that improvement in combination with the environment, social engagement, an organic ketogenic diet, great sleep, and love.
Another red light therapy that is applied to the entire body. This helps with collagen production, wound healing, reduces stress and anxiety, promotes improved sleep, and decreases inflammation.
And we also have a sauna, which is infrared light as well, inside the sauna. But that is really great for detoxification. So we really want to get them to sweat out all the toxins, and then take a cool shower after. This of course, is if it’s recommended by your doctor. This isn’t safe for everyone. Not all of these devices are safe for everybody. Even exercise. For our most recent resident, he went through a bit of a cardiac workup, and his doctor asked that he not exercise for the first couple weeks while we were waiting on some data to come back. We first make sure everything is approved by your doctor. We are obviously very committed to safety here.
These devices are available at Marama and our caregivers are very well versed in helping people to get the maximum benefit out of it in a very safe way.
It is a warm mat that helps with reducing anxiety and releasing tense muscles. And for example…we have one resident who has scoliosis and is often in pain. When we get her to lay on the BioMat for 30 min, we’ve noticed that immediately after, she’s a bit straighter and in less pain. It is very calming and soothing for residents to relax on the BioMat. When this resident with scoliosis first moved in she was very unsteady on her feet using the walls to balance as she walked around the house. She had suffered from a fall at the previous assisted living facility she was living in. Working with our activities specialists and a physical therapist,she now can walk without a cane, easily get up and down the stairs and no longer balances on the walls. She is straighter and more confident than she has been in years.
Several of our activities specialists have personal training and physical therapy backgrounds. At Marama we incorporate strength and resistance training. There are free weights and resistance bands that are simple, easy, effective and enjoyable for residents to use during their afternoon exercise routine.
We all know that movement is so important for circulation for cognitive function. Basically, if you could bottle exercise, we would have no more chronic diseases on the planet. One of the unfortunate things about the typical senior living facility is that they discourage exercise, because people are labeled a fall risk. Many communities feel the risk is greater than the reward. We feel the opposite. For our brains and bodies to work we must keep moving.