Whiteboards & People With Dementia

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Dementia sufferers and their loved ones must deal with a loss of mental capability that can be debilitating, worsens over time, and is mainly characterized by a loss of mental capacity as well as memory. Sufferers and their families may take advantage of visual aid tools like whiteboards to help all concerned compensate for such problems.

1 Dementia Defined

Dementia is a term that is used to refer to a group of symptoms that can result, whether suddenly or progressively, from various disorders such as Huntington's disease or Alzheimer's disease. Regardless of the cause of each particular dementia case, the brains of those afflicted with dementia are unable to function properly. Doctors formally diagnose dementia when key functions such as language skills and memory are impaired in conscious patients. The families of those afflicted can use tools such as whiteboards to aid in dementia management.

2 Kinds of Whiteboards

Whiteboards can be purchased in many sizes to suit the needs of dementia sufferers and to fit space requirements in their houses or the care centers they stay in. The models available run the gamut from those that make use of whiteboard markers and erasers to the more complex interactive and electronic units from manufacturers like Panasonic, 3M and Hitachi. Whiteboards come in fixed variants for attachment to walls and doors, as well as movable variants that come with stands to ease mobility.

3 Use of Whiteboards with Dementia Sufferers

As memory loss is one of the most significant problems faced by dementia sufferers, an effective day-to-day treatment regimen for dementia management must incorporate tools and tactics for countering and managing memory loss. Whiteboards form a significant part of this regimen. You can place important information on whiteboards strategically located in kitchens, dining rooms and bedrooms--information like phone numbers and reminders, grocery lists, schedules, timetables for doctors' and visitors' appointments and even pictures of loved ones.

4 Efficacy of Visual Aids such as Whiteboards

Medical science has long recommended the use of visual aids such as whiteboards in dementia management. Aside from the fact that they can serve as convenient locations for reminders and important information, they can also be used to evoke memories and help stimulate brain activity. Professor Roger Baker and his colleagues from the Dorset HealthCare NHS Trust and Dorset Research and Development Support Unit conducted a series of tests on 50 patients with moderate to severe dementia, the results of which were published in an article in the "British Journal of Clinical Psychology." These patients were subjected to therapy known as Multi-Sensory Stimulation (MSS) and structured activity sessions involving visual stimulation, such as looking at pictures. Results showed that patients who underwent the activity sessions were less bored, related to other people better, were more alert and attentive and spoke spontaneously without needing to be spoken to first.

5 Alternative Tools

Nurses, doctors and family members may elect to use other communication, stimulation and memory aids instead of whiteboards. They can choose from corkboards, blackboards, notepads, notebooks, diaries and high-tech solutions such as the COGKNOW series of home-based and mobile touch-screen multimedia systems. Caregivers and family members can jot down reminders, emergency telephone numbers, medicine schedules and the like in these aids, much as they would on a whiteboard, and the more sophisticated portable units may be used to stimulate dementia sufferers when they are outside their homes. The higher cost of high-tech tools along with the complexity involved with operating them makes whiteboards a better choice for many dementia sufferers and their families.