Editor’s Note: Here at the Penn Memory Center, the communications team has been trying out a weekly letter we call “Sunday Reads” to keep you updated on what’s been happening and what we’re currently reading in our office. To see this in your inbox first, fill out your name and email address at the top of your screen or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall is officially here, which means cooler weather, warmer clothing, and perhaps a difference in cognition—at least according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine.
The changing of the seasons doesn’t mean that your cognition will be altered. Rather, the researchers found that individuals (with and without Alzheimer’s disease) performed better on working memory and speed of perception tests when they took them in the summer or fall compared to those who took the tests in the winter or spring.
This study adds to a growing body of research that has previously found cognition may change with the four seasons. If cognition does in fact shift, the authors of the paper suggest dementia-related clinical resources should be made more available in the cooler seasons when a person’s symptoms are more severe. Certain biomarkers could be responsible for the change, but it’s not quite clear. Therefore, more research is needed.
Regardless if cognition changes or not, two things that don’t are the value of a caregiver and the importance of them getting help, too.
Kate Sieloff recounted to NPR the day-to-day difficulties she faces in caring for her husband Karl who has frontotemporal dementia. She has a lot to manage: his behavior, medications and finances, among many other aspects of his life. At times, she is admittedly overwhelmed. But after learning about a process known as The DICE Approach—which trains caregivers of patients with dementia to confront behavioral issues in a unique way—she feels much more in control.
While DICE has helped Kate and Karl in Michigan, other interesting strategies have proven to be a relief for caregivers and patients in the Netherlands. Some of their approaches have included stimulated bus rides and beach trips, cuddling with robotic seals, and dancing to classical music. In a New York Times article, a video shows a caregiver and patient dancing together at an assisted care facility.
If you also want to listen to some tunes, come join us at our free Memory Café on September 28. Students from the Curtis Institute of Music, a conservatory for gifted young musicians, will be performing.
Other events happening this month include Dance for Health on September 29. In addition to having a good time, the class also offers participants a support group, as former PMC intern Kaleah Mcllwain explains in an article featuring several members of the class.
Cognitive Comedy is also now enrolling for Fall 2018 (sign up here). The first session is October 7.
The PMC Communications Team
Terrence Casey, Joyce Lee, and new editorial interns Janissa Delzo, Linnea Langkammer, Sharnita Midgett