Train your brain
„Gymnastics for the hemispheres”
Duration: around 15 min.
Group size: Any
Materials: Appendix 1 (form)
The Facilitator asks the group to find a comfortable place in a room, with enough space for them to move freely and asks to follow few exercises in order to integrate both hemisphere and improve the thinking process.
Hints for the facilitator
- All the steps should be performed together but they can be performed separately as well
- The Facilitator can explain to the group, why this exercise was implemented within the topic of dementia prevention
1. “Lazy Eights (Infinity Sign)”*
The Facilitator asks participants to make a fist with their dominant hand and position a thumb up. Next participants must hold their arms out straight in front of them and bend their elbows slightly.
Following, they must put in line their extended arms, thumb in front of their noses and lift their thumbs up slightly, begin making horizontal figure eights in the air for 30seconds to a minute. Then participants are asked to switch to the non-dominant hand and arm to begin another series and complete the exercise.
*Lazy Eights are believed to exercise both sides of the brain, with benefits including enhanced attention, hand-eye co-ordination and emotional wellbeing, as well as stress reduction.
The exercise should be done for 1-2 minutes daily.
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing*
The Facilitator asks participants to sit down comfortably and follow the directions and movements:
Step one: The Facilitator asks participants to use the right thumb to close off the right nostril
Step two: They inhale slowly through the left nostril
Step three: Pause for a second
Step four: Now the Facilitator and the group close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril
Step five: Exhale through the right nostril
Step six: Now, inhale through the right nostril
Step seven: Pause
Step eight: Use the thumb to close off the right nostril
Step nine: Breathe out through the left nostril
After finishing one round, the group starts slowly with 1 or 2 rounds again and gradually increase this amount without forcing. After the group completes the exercise they sit quietly for a few moments.
*Breathing in through your left nostril will access your right brain, and breathing in through right nostril, will access the left brain. Consciously alternating breathing between either nostril will allow to activate and access the whole brain.
3. “Learning to read”
The Facilitator shows to the group a large photo of the Appendix 1 (form) and asks participants to read it as fast as possible without making the mistakes.
1. „Truth or False”
Duration: around 40 – 90 min.
Group size: 25 people
Materials: Electronic devices with Internet, brochures and books about stress, colorful pens, markers, paints, colorful paper, flip charts, glue, newspapers and magazines, scissors
The Facilitator divides participants into smaller groups of 5 people and gives each group a certain theory to confirm or to reject it and asks them to prepare a vivid flip-chart presentation with detailed arguments.
Group 1: Dementia cannot be prevented
Group 2: Dementia is a disease with diagnosis
Group 3: There is nothing you can do once you have dementia
Group 4: The people with dementia cannot live normally in the community
Group 5: Dementia equals Alzheimer disease
Once all groups presented their work, the Facilitator projects the 2 following TED videos which conclude and summarize theories mentioned above:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a9AguRGmbE – The 4 Myths about Dementia
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlWsq85HaiU – Dementia: what we wish we’d known
Hints for the Facilitator:
- Provide enough time and materials – for preparing the flip-chart presentation and encourage participants to discuss all the angles of the theory and ask other groups questions after the presentations.
- Watch carefully the two videos and afterwards start discussion weather their opinions agree with the opinions from the experts
- Find space in the activity room to hang out the posters
2. „Creative brain”
Duration: around 40 min.
Group size: Any
Materials: pens, paper, hat/bowl, chill music, ball
The Facilitator explains to the group that one of the very important ways to keep fresh and interested mind and to prevent dementia are exercises fostering creativity, which also help solving problems, sharping up memory and improve associating. This activity contains three different exercises that promote creative thinking.
„What is needed to…?”
The participants sit together in a circle and the Facilitator throws a ball to a person asking questions as below. This person answers by saying 1 thing and then throws the ball to another person. The game is going on until all the ideas on a certain topic are exploited – participants cannot repeat. Then the question is changed.
- What do you need to…go fishing?
- What do you need to…reach a high peak?
- What do you need to…publish a book?
- What do you need to…travel to New Zealand?
- What do you need to…make a scientific discovery?
- What do you need to…bake a cake?
- What do you need to…get the Oscar?
„Give a new use”
The Facilitator divides participants into small groups of 4 people. Each group draws one paper, from a ball or hat, with a task of coming up with new ideas on how to use an object/objects which are written on the paper. Within 10 min. each group has to create as many innovative, original and even abstract ideas as possible.
Give a new use to:
- empty egg shells
- plastic coffee cups
- jam jars
- cocktail straws
- used nails
- old cassette tape
- old rubber tires
- broken mirrors
„Self-reflection on curiosity”
The Facilitator introduces the last task as an individual, reflective work, asking each participant to first think and then to write answers on the following questions:
- What interests you? What things, phenomena, events, people? What are you constantly reflecting on? What/who would you like to know more about?
- Why those particular things, phenomena, events, people interest you the most? Please, explain your choice.
The Facilitator gives participants around 15 min. to accomplish the task and then asks the group to share their work and to exchange inspiring stories.
Hints for the Facilitator:
- Remember to prepare tasks on small papers and put them in a bowl or a hat (from where the participants can draw them out)
- Put on some chilling music for the last exercise (while they individually reflect and write)
- Explain that many times we do not have time or a need to develop abstract thinking nor to deeply think about things that may be interesting for us – that’s why we dedicate workshop time to move this part of imagination that often is forgotten – especially by the adults.
- Remember not to judge in those exercises – their purpose is to develop creativity and abstract thinking, not the quality or realistic thinking, and also to discover new personal interests.
Upon completion of all activities, the Facilitator asks each participant to share 1 new thing they have learnt during the workshops and to write it down on a small paper. Later on, the papers should be collected by the Facilitator and analyzed to reach conclusions on what knowledge was more relevant and for how many participants. The outcomes of this short survey can be shared with the group on a poster or a graphical presentation.
1. „Connecting generations”
This activity can be performed at schools, youth clubs and mostly SENIOR CITIZEN CLUBS etc.
Duration: around 4 hours
The Facilitator encourages the group to organize the event promoting prevention of Dementia for the local seniors to participate. The group should prepare activities which will encourage seniors to take care of their brain – such as: creative exercises, crosswords, board games, pilates or yoga sessions, meetings with doctors/experts, representatives of the Alzheimer’s disease associations, providing a short lecture and a presentation how to keep mental health and a good memory. The event could be organized in September, as it is known as World Alzheimer’s Month. The event should be well promoted in the local and social media.
Relevant information on Alzheimer’s disease: https://www.alz.co.uk
2. „What am I going to add?”
Duration: around 10 min.
Group size: Any
Materials: Appendix 2 (Infographic), pen
The Facilitator presents the list of „The ways of how to prevent Dementia” and asks participants to take 1 idea on it on an individual level. The list could be created online, for example on the Facebook group/fan page, so volunteers can post their propositions. The promotion of the project can be done at the same time or it can be done during the workshops in a traditional way – by writing. The task may appear to be difficult, but it also improves creativity and searching skills of the participants.