The brain

Dementia Live - (Series 2 Episode 6) - How simple are simple things? 🧠

This is the Alzheimer's Society's tea activity from their Dementia Friends sessions of which I'm a trainer. Please do share the post.

We’re going to have a quick think about how dementia can effect simple tasks and also how simple tasks are not quite as simple as we think there are.

Have a think about the steps needed to make a nice cup of tea...

How many steps are there?

What’s the 1st step?

What was the last step? “drink the tea”

What about putting the milk back in the fridge, going to a chair to drink the tea, washing up the mug or putting it back in the right cupboard.

How about the middle steps. Carrying the kettle to the sink, turning on the tap, filling it to halfway and many, many more.

Everyday tasks are much more complex than we realise.

Everyone has slightly different ways of making tea and people living with dementia will prefer their tea in a certain way too.

Think back to the last week's fairy lights analogy (click here if you haven’t seen it) we talked about the fact that dementia can effect different functions of the brain not just memory.

Movement, vision, coordination and more can be effected by dementia.

What functions of the brain are required to make a cup of tea?

Lots of functions are needed.

• Movement – walking to the kitchen and picking up items.

• Vision – seeing where items are.

• Coordination – managing multiple steps to make tea.

• Logic – measuring temperature or volume of water.

• Sequencing – the order of steps to make tea.

• Memory – where items are kept.

If one of those functions was impaired, could we still make a nice cup of tea?

• It might be difficult to follow the instructions

• We might miss out a step

• We might mistake an ingredient

Dementia is not just about losing your memory. Any of the functions we’ve identified could be affected by dementia. This means that people living with dementia may struggle with everyday tasks like making a cup of tea.

Perhaps they may need support with part of the task that is difficult, for example pouring the kettle for them.

Perhaps tea could be made together, following the instructions of the person.

Perhaps the equipment and ingredients could be put together in a place that is easy to access and labelled.

Retaining independence is possible. Supporting the person to make the tea will help them to continue to live well. People living with dementia may struggle with everyday tasks but with support it is possible forhem to continue to perform these tasks.

It is possible to live well with dementia.


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Dementia Live - (Series 2 Episode 5) - The Dementia Fairy-light analogy 🧠

This is the Alzheimer’s Society’s dementia fairy-light analogy.

Imagine the brain is a string of fairy-lights.

It’s not just memory that is affected by dementia.

Depending on which fairy-light begins to flicker, dim and go out and which part of the brain is affected by the dementia. That will determine which function is affected.

If the fairy-light at the front part of the brain starts to dim and flicker, and its this part of the brain that is affected by the dementia then it could be movement, concentration, memory, judgement, impulse control, consciousness or problem solving that become effected by the dementia.

Now imagine instead that dementia affects the upper back part of the brain and a fairy-light begins to dim and flicker in this area then touch, temperature, pain regulation and spatial awareness could be effected which could cause a trip or a fall.

Were a fairy-light at the bottom rear part of the brain flicker, and that part of the brain become affected by the dementia then vision will become difficult.

Were dementia to affect the central part of the brain this could affect memory. There are two parts of this central area that are close together, the hippocampus which controls factual memories and the amygdala which controls emotional memories. The amygdala controlling emotional memories is much more resistant to dementia.

It’s not just memory that is affected by dementia, it could be any one of the functions we’ve mentioned depending on which part of the brain is affected by the dementia.

It is possible to live well with dementia with positivity and understanding.


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Dementia Live - (Series 2 Episode 4) - The Brain 🧠

Dementia Live - (Series 2 Episode 4) - The Brain 🧠 

I’ve talked before about the fact that dementia is more than just losing your memory.

Depending on which part of the brain is affected by dementia that will determine which bodily function is affected by the dementia (memory is one of those).

The upper front part of the brain is called the Frontal Lobe. This controls movement, concentration, memory, judgement, impulse control, consciousness and problem solving so if dementia effects this area of the brain these functions could be affected.

The upper back part of the brain is called the Parietal Lobe. It controls touch, temperature regulation, pain and spatial awareness. If dementia were to affect this part of the brain then these functions could be affected. Difficulties with spatial awareness could result in falls or trips.

The lower back part of the brain is called the Occipital Lobe which controls vision.

The central part of the brain is called the Temporal Lobe. There are two areas close together called the Hippocampus and the Amygdale in the temporal lobe.

The hippocampus controls factual memories, this area is particularly susceptible to dementia whilst the amygdala which controls emotional memories is much more resistant to dementia.

So remember there is much more to dementia than memory loss. Depending on which part of the brain is affected will determine which function is affected.

It is possible to live well with dementia with positivity and understanding.

Here’s a quick video on the positives of conditions and looking at happy, funny memories…


Share this with someone who needs to see it and watch out for the next video and post next week. 

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