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Dec 24, 2018 · Happy Holidays in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Hot Chocolate Snow Man

Happy Holidays to our HABIT Family and all those living with Mild Cognitive Impairment!

We will be back with more MCI related news and posts in the New Year!

Warm wishes,

The HABIT Team

Dec 19, 2018 · Repost: Mindfulness Slow Down for Self Care During the Holidays in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Beth Rush Mindfullness Piece

This week we wanted to share a story/video recently done for Mayo Clinic by one of our Mayo Clinic Florida Colleagues, Dr. Beth Rush.

You can watch the short Mayo Clinic Minute video here:

Mayo Clinic Minute: Three Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

And, read the full story here.

Mindfulness Slow Down for Self Care During the Holidays

Great advice to remember to slow down and be mindful this Holiday Season!

Dec 11, 2018 · Making a List, Checking it Twice: Doing To Do Lists Well in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Christmas To DoMany of us naturally get the idea of keeping a “To Do” list or task list of things we need to get done.  This may have been recommended to you, or perhaps you started doing it more on your own after the diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment.  But, how do you make a meaningful To Do list?

If you are like me, your first approach to a To Do list may have been to write one long, master list of every possible thing that you need or want to do.  The result:  a long, overwhelming list that you don’t accomplish.  In our experience, you To Do list can be improved by trying the following:

  1. Break down large tasks into steps.  Don’t just write “Get ready for Christmas” on your list; break down all of the steps you need to get there. And, even those steps may need to be broken down further.  A great example is “Buy presents.”  Break this one down into lists of who and what.  Going out of town?  Break it down into all the steps needed for traveling, (packing, booking tickets, boarding pets, etc.)
  2. Assign tasks to the day you plan to do them.  This tip is likely the largest deviation from what you are used to in that classic, comprehensive master list.  I am recommending that you do not see all of the items that you could possibly accomplish on that master To Do list each day.  Doing so only desensitizes you to all the items on the list (meaning they start to lose their importance when you keep putting them off each day).  It also can leave you feeling down or frustrated with yourself for not achieving enough, or simply overwhelmed with all there is to do.  Instead, once you break down your tasks into steps, assign them to a day you realistically can do that particular step or task. Put it on your calendar.  Better yet, if you are using a planner, like the one in HABIT, put it in the To Do section for that day. You are much more likely to accomplish all that is on your list if there are only a few things for the day.
  3. Commit to try to do those things that day.  This way, you can keep working towards your goals a day at a time, step by step, so that tasks get done.  Prioritize items by putting a star or asterisk by them, and make sure to try to get those items for sure done that day.
  4. Check it Off!  Put a check next to items that you get done.  This gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps you remember what you got done if you are experiencing memory loss.  Now you have a permanent record of the accomplishment (you can even check it twice 🙂 Thus, don’t just scribble it out when you are done; we want to see that you got it done!
  5. Carry things forward you don’t get done.  Even after breaking down tasks and assigning only a few to a day, any of us can still not get everything done we wanted to.  If that happens, just make sure that you carry it forward in your calendar so that you don’t lose track or forget that step!  I like to put an arrow instead of the check mark when this happens.  And, don’t just arrow it forward, make sure you pick a new day you will get it done and write it on that date.

 

Hannukah

 

This blog was about good “form” in keeping an effective To Do list.  Please let us know if you have any other tips.  But, particularly, what helps you stay motivated to get things done?  I didn’t talk about that important piece, and I’d like to hear your thoughts!

 

Meet others talking about being a caregiver for a spouse with mild cognitive impairment on Mayo Clinic Connect – an online community where you can share experiences, ask questions and find support from people like you.

Nov 13, 2018 · HABIT Helps Older Adults with Memory Loss Find Ways to Cope in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Of course, we love good press for the HABIT Program and are happy to share this recent article by NJ.Com:

NJ.com

(Click on the picture to follow the link to the full article.)

Oct 17, 2018 · Now What? The Importance of Having Purpose as We Age in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Great points, Debbra! Everyone needs a sense of purpose, and that does mean caregivers, too. And, I agree, that most people need a sense of purpose outside of being a caregiver as well.

Oct 16, 2018 · Now What? The Importance of Having Purpose as We Age in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Purpose

For many, one of the perks of age is the ability to retire. You worked hard all your life to earn your time to do whatever you want, when you want to do it. Yes, you EARNED it.  Or, maybe memory loss, or other circumstance, has forced you to retire.  What do you do with your time now?

It seems that simply doing nothing is not all it is cracked up to be. Low and behold, watching endless hours of television is not good for your body or your brain.  And, this isn’t just about the benefits of being active.  I’m talking about having meaning or purpose to your activity.  Doing something that makes you feel like your life matters.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a post full of inspirational quotes or links to self-help websites.  I can’t tell you how to give yourself purpose.  I AM going to ask you to pause, and ask yourself, “Do I have a sense of purpose in my life?” and  “Do I feel like I matter?”  Yes, those are deep questions, and questions that many people find themselves asking when they encounter any life transition.  Often, people find themselves asking those questions with retirement or with an acquired change in ability, like physical limitations or cognitive limitations from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Why does this matter? Well, there is growing evidence that having a sense of purpose is linked to better health and well-being in older adults. The benefits to health are so great, that there is actually reduced risk of death when folks report higher sense of purpose!  (Yes, that is during the duration of a study, so maybe it’s fairer to say delay in death. And, no, sense of purpose does not impact your taxes.)

Cognitively, individuals are less likely to develop MCI or Alzheimer’s disease when they report a strong sense of purpose.  Further, those same researchers (from the Rush Memory and Aging Project) found that having a sense of purpose actually reduced the association between Alzheimer’s plaques in the brain and cognitive performance.  Meaning: having a sense of purpose meant you could do better cognitively despite how much plaque was in your brain!

So, my appeal to the importance of you having a sense of purpose is not just about how happy you are or a general message that I want you to have a good quality of life. I DO want you to have those things. However, on a more basic level that maybe you never thought about before, having that sense of purpose can actually safeguard your cognition and health.

The irony here? Cognitive change from MCI can challenge your sense of purpose, or even take away the sense of purpose you once had (like being forced to retire early from meaningful employment or give up a volunteer/leadership position you loved).  In actuality, then, getting the diagnosis of MCI becomes just the time when we need to strive to ensure that we have a sense of purpose.  If what used to be your sense of purpose can no longer apply, find new sources of meaning in your life.

OK, indulge me with one inspirational quote:

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Nietzsche

How did you face a change to your sense of self-meaning or purpose? We’d love to hear!