Professional and family caregivers and higher functioning patients sometimes feel inadequate, even with communication training, in understanding what is going on in the brain of persons with memory loss. While the medical health care professionals are responsible for this knowledge and for treatment based on diagnosis, it might be helpful for others involved to learn a little about the facts behind the mystery.
The neurons and synapses in the outer cortex of the cerebral lobes interact with the center of the brain to pull pathways together, move the perception, logic and recall clues to appropriate areas of the brain for storage or to deliver information for response.
The center of the brain communicates with the neural activity in the Cortex of the Cerebral lobes. The lobes in the center of the brain are the Thalamus, the Sub-thalamus and the Hypothalamus. These areas connect and make possible the activities in various lobes of the Cortex or “wrinkled thinking” outer area of the brain.
All incoming sensory pathways except for the sense of smell is processed in several groups of cells in the Thalamus. Motor skills (the ability to move or automatic responses), visual (sight) skills, auditory (hearing) and association (ability to assimilate) are communicated here between the cortex and the fibers that contribute to appropriate responses.
Sub thalamic nuclei, located in the Thalamus are concerned with motor activity and have connections with the Basal Ganglia. (Basal Ganglia is four grey matter masses located deep in the cerebral hemispheres. Hearing and sight functions are included in the processing through this area.
The hypothalamus consists of masses of neurons and associated tracks.
This area is where sleep activity, pituitary gland activity, body temperatures, emotional reactions and other responses as regulated from the frontal and temporal lobes. Headaches, thyroid problems, sleep disorders, eating disorders, and reproductive disorders may be the result of hormonal dysfunction.
Four of the brains most important balancing hormones, Serotonin, Dopomine, Noreopinephrine, and Acetylcholine is responsible for many functions and are located in the hypothalamus. Functions such as blood pressure, emotional balance, thyroid and adrenal activity are affected by the stability of the hormones.
The caregiver’s role in assisting enhancement and interaction is important.
The most important things to remember for a caregiver in helping someone who has a brain injury or dementia disease is to maintain patience, understanding and impersonal reactions.
Because damage to areas that deal and interact with emotions, logical thinking and appropriate social skills, a client may display anger, inappropriate sexual advances, and some may strike out in abusive ways against caregivers. Learn ways to back off, stand aside and verbally diffuse these explosions.
The caregiver can research and find creative ways to help the client sleep at the very least through sleep cycles of one and one half hours or more.
Find ways to enhance (not force) nutrition. Encourage physical and brain activities as planned by physical therapist and dementia or brain specialists.