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New Launch: Drawing and Colouring PDF

This 9 page PDF comprises seven colouring sheets of the Kueh Lapis, Gasing, Cha Kiak, Ketupat, Png Kueh, Durian and Ba Zhang. Colouring is a great activity for mental and emotional health. It is even more meaningful when you get to colour items that you recognise

I’ve just launched two activities which are in PDF format.

This is the first time that I’ve put out something in PDF.

And, I’m happy to hear from you on this.

Beyond Card Games

I hope to continue creating activities for seniors. But, I guess it may take a different shape and form beyond a deck of cards.

I do think that card games are great in the way that they are able to bring people together and interact face to face.

It is an easily accessible tool for large groups.

You can’t simply hand an ipad to every senior if you have a big event with large communities involved.

Visually Appealing Activities

I want to create activities that are visually appealing.

I try to include icons of everyday things that are familiar to us.

Hopefully, they can invoke positive memories among seniors and trigger some form of response from them.

1. Uniquely Singapore Colouring

This 9 page PDF comprises seven colouring sheets of the Kueh Lapis, Gasing, Cha Kiak, Ketupat, Png Kueh, Durian and Ba Zhang. Colouring is a great activity for mental and emotional health. It is even more meaningful when you get to colour items that you recognise

SALE PRICE: $5

Colouring is a great activity for mental and emotional health.

It is even more meaningful when you get to colour items that you recognise.

This 9 page PDF comprises seven colouring sheets of the Kueh Lapis, Gasing, Cha Kiak, Ketupat, Png Kueh, Durian and Ba Zhang.

The sheets are partially coloured (as indicated on the cover) so that it gives the participant an idea of the intended colour of the item.

2. Step by Step Drawing

Step by Step Sketch for Seniors

SALE PRICE: $3

I was inspired by one of the pages in my grandma ‘s colouring book.

It was an activity that guided people through the steps to draw a particular item. I tried to lead her in this activity.

When we were doing the activity, I realised that it was really quite challenging. It required a ton of hand eye coordination.

So, I created the Step by Step Sketch Activity. It is a The 11 page downloadable PDF comprises 5 exercises.

It guides you and your loved ones to complete the drawing of the orange, seashell, leaf, flower and mushroom in a step by step way.

This is a great activity for seniors who love to draw. For seniors who can’t draw or has issues gripping a pen, you can engage them by getting them to spot the difference between the pictures.

Each picture is a progressive development from the previous, thus, there would be differences between the pictures.

I’m happy to get feedback on whether I should continue in this direction.

These products are currently on sale at $5 and $3 respectively. Check them out here!

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Early Intervention: Does Hua Hee help your grandma?

After experiencing the pain of dementia at home, Christel Goh creates games for people and communities to engage seniors.

When i share with others about my card games, many often ask, “So, your grandma is better now because of your card games?”

To which, I would reply that my family does many different things, in the area of early intervention.

In this blog post, I share about the various lifestyle interventions — food, activities, exercise and social inclusion.

Through all of these, we’ve seen an extremely positive change in my grandma.

Here’s some context:

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

My grandma showed early warning signs of dementia two years ago. She got agressive. She had signs of short term memory loss and suspicion.

This was unsual because she’s usually very sharp and is very mild mannered. But, my mother was very determined not to let her “get” it.

My grandfather had dementia more than five years ago. It was a time where there was much less knowledge/support on the condition in Singapore.

Lots of Research

My mum did extensive research on dementia — from understanding the condition, how it occurs, how to prevent and slow it down.

While many people would say that it’s impossible to reverse the condition of dementia, we’ve seen vast improvement in my grandma. Although, we’ve never gotten her diagnosed in the first place.

The positive change in her memory, behaviour and temperamant shows us that early intervention is really important.

I feel that many people in time starved cities like Singapore dont have the time to watch for behavioural changes in their loved ones, much less embark on early intervention.

People may only see the need to intervene when the symptoms of a condition become servere. By then, it may be too late? I don’t know.

Here’s what my family does for my grandma:

1. Food

Coconut oil is great for persons with dementia or show early warning signs of dementia
Coconut oil is great for persons with dementia or people who show early warning signs of dementia. 

My mum is very health conscious so my grandma eats homecooked food everyday.

My family also hardly eats rice so we limit her rice intake.

Even when she does eat rice, our rice at home is a mix of white, brown rice and barley.

My mum is also against processed food so we don’t really eat things like luncheon meat and spam. (haha)

According to my mum, if whatever you’re eating doesnt have a face, it is processed.

We also take loads of spices in our food like tumeric, cinnmon etc. Tumeric is one of those things that appears to be good for the brain.

My mum also read about the benefits of coconut oil for the brain. Since then, my grandma religiously takes  a spoonful of coconut oil everyday.

While there isn’t sufficient research to back the benefits of coconut oil, there are many stories of it benefiting others online.

We’ve also seen a significant change in her memory and disposition ever since we got her started on coconut oil.

You can get coconut oil at a DISCOUNTED PRICE HERE.

2. Activities

We thought about what would be able to engage her or keep her occupied.

During the daytime, both my parents are at work and if we didn’t find things to engage her with, she would just stare at the tv screen or spend her time sleeping.

One day I brought home the Secret Garden colouring book. She got really intrigued by it.

She spent a long time colouring when we got her the book.

Over the next few days, she stopped staring at the TV screen. She would be colouring all day and night.

To date, she’s gone through many colouring books. We now have stacks and stacks of her coloured books.

Helping her find an activity that she enjoys and keeping her occupied has been one of the best things ever.

Some people have told me that it could be because when i was little, she would be colouring with me.

So, it could be an activity that brings back positive memories.

I’m currently trying to find other ways to engage her so she is continuously exposed to different things and is kept engaged. But,she doesnt seem to be interested in other things. I’ve tried crossword puzzles, drawing etc.

If you’re looking for activities to engage seniors, you can check my games out HERE.

3. Exercise

Last year, she fell down at home a few times. Those were scary experiences. We struggled with getting her off the floor . Thank God she wasnt hurt in those episodes.

Those were signs that she needed to gain strength in her legs. My mum then found some chair exercises off the internet. We got her to go to the psyiotherapist who directed us to those exercises too.

Getting up from a chair is an exercise that she is supposed to do three sessions a day (10 times at each session).

At first, she really struggled to get up and took quite a few seconds trying to get up from the chair.  After doing it regularly, she has progressed quite well. She can now get up without supporting herself with her hands.

The speed at which she gets up from the chair has also increased quite a bit. This shows that she is much stronger in her legs now.

I shared about how consistent exercise helped her gain strength in her legs previously.

4. Social Inclusion

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

What she gains out of 2 & 3 is social inclusion. It has been reported that hearing loss can lead to dementia and it’s easy to imagine why.

We often have to speak very loudly, slowly and repeat ourselves multiple times for my grandma to hear us.

You can imagine a setting such as dinner – everyone is in the midst of a conversation, but the senior who is hearing impaired is physically present but he or she can’t get involved because they can’t hear.

The need to feel a sense of belonging is the third highest in the Maslow’s hierrachy of needs, after safety and phsyological needs. If they can’t get involved, they can’t feel like they belong.

My mum also gets her to walk around the house everyday after dinner. She always sings and prays with my grandma regularly. We also try to bring her out for walks whenever we can. She’s not very mobile so she cant leave home on her own.

But, she’s very sociable by nature and can strike up a conversation with literally, anyone.

The simple activity of going down to the park gives her much needed sunshine, fresh air and conversations with neighbours.

She also gets to play with pet dogs if the neighbours bring them down.

 

These are simple everyday things to do. But, many times its really about discipline and commitment. What works for us, may not work for you… I encourage you to just keep trying different things. You may only find something that works on your 99th try.

I started on a Preventing Dementia Mooc and you can read my learnings here and here

Do you want FREE activities for seniors? Leave your email address and we will send them to you.






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Seven resources for people caring for seniors

Seven resources for people caring for seniors

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

If you are caring for a senior or a loved one, you probably have many unanswered questions.

Questions that come to you in the middle of the night. You wonder if anyone goes through the same challenges as you.

If other caregivers also encounter the problem of having the smell of pee everywhere in the home. Or, if they struggle to respond when their loved ones start hallucinating.

This is why I put together a list of seven resources for caregivers.

Since I started the Fighting Dementia Facebook Group,  I’m always on the look out for caregiver tips, resources and various things to share in the group.

Here’s a compilation of some of the sites that I follow. I hope they help you on this journey too.

  1. Daily Caring

This is probably my favourite resource for seniors because it’s really informative. It’s targeted at the family caregiver.

You can subscribe to their mailing list and they will send you weekly (I think) emails. They cover a wide range of topics. In their email, they focus on a topic for the week, and include other recommended readings.

Here are examples of their recommended readings.

Recommended reading:

  • 4 Tips for Managing Multiple Health Conditions
  • 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor’s: Being a Health Advocate
  • 10 Medications Seniors Should Avoid Taking
  • How to Approach Someone with Dementia: 6 Tips for a Positive Care Experience [Video]
  • Celebrate Father’s Day with 18 Gifts and Activities for Seniors

2. Golden Carers

Golden Carers offers activities for seniors. They have a list of free activities and there is also a subscription fee where you can pay for more activities. But, many of their activities are quite targeted at the western audience. So, they may or may not be relevant for seniors in Asia.

3. Activities for Seniors Facebook Group

This is a group created by the people who started the Golden Carers. There seem to be many individuals who work at senior facilities. They share the activities that they organise at their centres. Some of them have really creative activities.

It is also quite interesting to see the effort that goes into creating these experiences for seniors. It is a closed group so you have to request for access into the group.

4. Alzheimers and Dementia Caregiver Support Facebook Group

This is quite a big group of caregivers to loved ones with dementia. Most of the caregivers in the group are from America. They are very open about their sharing and it can get quite emotional. But, many people in the group are also very encouraging and comforting.

Many of them seem to be dealing with loved ones in the moderate to severe stages of dementia. If you’re looking for an outlet to share your struggles, you can consider joining the group.

5. Caregivers Connect Facebook Page

Caregivers Connect is a Facebook page set up by AWWA. It shares news, stories and tips for caregivers.  They share content very regularly. And, much of the content is relevant to the Singapore audience. This is a great page to follow for updates in Singapore related to caregivers.

6. Project We Forgot

Project We Forgot shares stories of caregivers to persons with dementia. Many of these stories are inspirational.

Project We Forgot shares stories of caregivers to persons with dementia. Many of these stories are inspirational. They depict the dedication and sacrifice that caregivers have to make for their loved ones. They also organise sessions for caregivers in Singapore to come together.

7. ProjectCare

ProjectCare shares caregiver stories, tips and tricks and resources like How to videos. Its a resource for seniors.
ProjectCare shares caregiver stories, tips and tricks and resources like How to videos. Its a resource for seniors.

I just found out about Project Care recently. It’s managed by the same person who also runs Ageless Online. They share caregiver stories, tips and tricks and resources like How to videos.

Do you want FREE activities for seniors? Leave your email address and we will send them to you.






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Good for the Brain: 17 insights from Preventing Dementia Mooc

What is good for the brain? 17 quick lessons from the Preventing Dementia Mooc. Aerobics, strength training and even alcohol!

Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

I blogged last week on the 9 Things I learnt from the Preventing Dementia Mooc where I took on the first module. Today’s post is on the second module which essentially covers what’s good for the brain.

The second module goes abit more indepth into the various prevention measures such as exercise, health foods, smoking etc.

These have been reported and discussed as being good for the brain. They are further validated in the Preventing Dementia Mooc.

After completing the module, the message that I got was one that seems to debunk the benefits of some of these health foods.

The lessons that discusses a particular health food like Coconut Oil or Gingko Biloba conclude with, “There is no conclusive evidence that it would prevent/slow down the progression of dementia.” I understand that it may take a longer time for research to produce comprehensive data.

And, it’s probably important for the professors to advise people against going crazy and swallowing Coconut oil or Gingko by the bottle.

But, Coconut oil has worked incredibly well for my grandma.

What’s good for the brain? And, what’s not?

  1. Type two diabetes is associated with a two fold increase in risk for dementia.
  2. Annually 31% of people with Type 1 Diabetes have low blood sugar episodes. Any more than 4 episodes in a year can be associated with a very high risk of cognitive impairment (slowing of the brain).
  3. Insulin resistance (an effect of Type 1 Diabetes) might be involved in the development of beta-amalyoid plaques( a cause of dementia).
  4. Effects of Type 2 diabetes on the brain can be a result of various causes – vascular disease and neuro degeneration.
  5. It is not clear whether everyone with Type 2 diabetes will get dementia.
  6. There is more evidence to show that physical activity has a positive impact on frontal lobe functions such as processing speed as compared to functions like memory. Findings are more varied in the latter.
  7. The type of activity must be vigorous enough to have increased heart beat and intense breathing to have positive effects on cognitive health.
  8. The combination of aerobic and strength training is the best for cognitive health.
  9. It is unclear if low impact exercise such as balancing, relaxation or yoga help cognitive function.
  10. Physical activity with cognitive tasks like dancing or taichi which requires you to remember steps may have additional benefits
  11. It is never too late to start exercising and see benefits even in individuals with mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
  12. Smoking in older adults increase the risk of dementia by 70%.
  13. In a study on people who went through a smoking cessation programme, they found that people who gave up smoking have less cognitive decline.
  14. People who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a lower risk of developing dementia compared to those who don’t drink any alcohol at all.
  15. Excessive drinking over many years, and regular episodes of binge drinking, are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. It’s all about moderation.
  16. Gingko Biloba – Gingko may have anti inflamatory properties and increase blood flow to the brain. But, there is no consistent data that it will help persons with dementia.
  17. Midlife hypertension and midlife obesity is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimers’ disease.

These are lessons from the May 2018 Preventing Dementia MOOC by Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre. Did you do the MOOC? Let me know.

Do you want FREE activities for seniors? Leave your email address and we will send them to you.






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Game Ideas: Drawing with my grandma

Sketching with my grandma. We try to engage her with this step by step sketch activity. This is her artwork.

In today’s blog post, I share about a recent activity at home — Drawing with my grandma. I guided my grandma through a Step by Step Drawing activity.

What I’ve learnt is to be less focused on the outcome but more about the process of the activity. In a more cliche phrase, happiness is the journey, and not the destination.

My family is constantly trying to find ways to engage my grandma because we feel that keeping her busy and engaging her is key to her mental health. There’s a common saying  – “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. This is why we are always on the look out for different activities to help work different parts of her brain.

My grandma currently spends most of her time at home colouring. Colouring is a great activity. It’s something that keeps her engaged, and helps her exercise hand and eye coordination. It is great also because its something that she enjoys doing.

Beyond colouring, me and my mum have been looking for different activities to engage her and exercise different parts of the brain. One day, when she was colouring, I noticed a simple Step by Step sketch exercise in her colouring book and so, I tried out the activity with her.

Step by Step Sketch Activity in my grandma's colouring book
Step by Step Drawing Activity in my grandma’s colouring book

While working on this activity, I realised that it’s quite a challenge, it requires seniors to:

1. Understand what is the objective/outcome (e.g. Drawing a cupcake)

2. Identify the differences between each drawing

3. Make a good gauge of where each drawing step starts and ends

4. Understand the textures involved in the drawing (Is it a straight or curved line? Must I draw a jagged ege? etc)

I feel that it was a great activity to practise hand eye coordination and all of these things.  If the seniors that you care for can’t draw, maybe, you can ask them to point out the differences between each drawing as an activity.

Because of this, I created a downloadable PDF of Step by Step Drawing exercises for seniors. You can guide your seniors to draw the flower, orange, mushroom, leaf and seashell. These are everyday items that we would have come into contact with.

Hopefully, these can trigger some positive memories.

I tried the activity that I created with my grandma. And, here are some pictures of the session:

My grandma tracing an object to draw a circle
My grandma tracing an object to draw a circle
My grandma following the Step by Step Sketch guide to draw the petals of a flower.
My grandma following the Step by Step Drawing guide to draw the flower.
My grandma's completed artwork using the Step by Step Sketch guide for seniors
This is her completed artwork

Lessons from drawing with my grandma

Depending on the individual’s ability, you may have to hand hold them quite abit or even help them out by guiding them to draw at the specific locations.

Be mentally prepared that your senior’s completed artwork may look very different from the original sketch (haha). It’s totally okay if they draw the lines wrongly or the proportions are all over the place. I believe the process is definitely much more valuable than the outcome.

Even if this activity doesnt work for you, you can always try something else. It’s important to note that just by attempting to try it out, you have engaged your seniors in some way or another.

So… Dont give up!

Some people have told me that seniors enjoy doing things that is in some ways connected to their past. I read of a caregiver whose mum, living with dementia, paints really beautiful rocks.  Her mother was an artist when she was younger.

I hope this inspires you to try different things with the seniors that you care for. If you know of any activities that works for your seniors, do let me know, so I can try them out with my grandma too.

If you would like to engage your senior(s) with this activity, do consider getting this downloadable PDF and using it as a simple guide.

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