brain · disease · health · mental health · play

Why I support doll therapy for Alzheimers

I heard an interesting story on NPR today: the increase in doll therapy for patients with dementia:

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Guzofsky, who has Alzheimer’s disease [pictured above], lives on a secure memory floor at a home for seniors in Beverly Hills, Calif. She visits the dolls in the home’s pretend nursery nearly every day. Sometimes Guzofsky changes their clothes or lays them down for a nap. One morning in August, she sings to them: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray.”

No one knows whether she believes she is holding a doll or a real baby. What the staff at Sunrise Senior Living do know is that Guzofsky, who can get agitated and aggressive, is always calm when caring for the dolls.

Doll therapy is catching on at nursing homes and other senior facilities across the country. It’s used to help ease anxiety among residents with dementia, who can experience personality changes, agitation and aggression. But the therapy is controversial.

Supporters say the dolls can lessen distress, improve communication and reduce the need for psychotropic medication. Critics say the dolls are demeaning and infantilize seniors.

Full story here.

I understand the concern that critics may find this kind of treatment demeaning to seniors who now need care to do basic everyday tasks.

However, let’s think of this as something else: Play Therapy.

It’s true that it can be hard to tell if the patients realize this is a toy doll or real baby. However this could potentially be very similar to a child’s imaginary play with dolls or an imaginary friend: kids know it’s pretend, but also get very invested in their pretend world, taking care of their babies, feeding them, changing them, snuggling them for comfort.

I also agree that the positive results – reduced stress, increased verbalization, and more – without the use of medication, make it worth more exploration rather than outright rejection because of its use of toys and play. Maybe the nay-sayers should give it a try.

architecture · design · disease · environment · health · work

Architecture and the Airpocalypse | Architect Magazine

A smoggy Shanghai skyline

A really fascinating read about improving air quality through design by architect Blaine Brownell:

During a study-abroad tour of China that I led in May and June through the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture (read more about the trip here and here), one topic, aside from architecture, that my students and I discussed regularly was air pollution. Although we were in southern and central China, which are less affected than Beijing and other northern cities, we often found ourselves in a murky atmosphere. For three weeks, we rarely saw blue sky even on sunny days, and the air imparted a palpable thickness.

We checked the country’s Air Quality Index (AQI) daily via mobile app for the local forecast—especially after a bout of intense allergies sent me to a local pharmacist. This led us to question how we as architects and designers can counter such an ever-present problem.

Air pollution influences not only our physical health but also our experience of the built environment. Buildings and landscapes become soft and gritty, losing their clarity, sharpness, and color behind a veil of smog. The azure backdrop that is beloved in architectural representations is rarely witnessed. Rather, gray predominates, at times accompanied by brown. Despite this reality, blue sky persists in renderings of projects in China.

read the whole article at via Architecture and the Airpocalypse | Architect Magazine |.

behavior · culture · disease · happiness · health

Statistics Say We Should Take Friday Off From Work. All The Fridays, Forever And Ever.

This is a great visual follow up to my post from a couple of weeks ago about the value of not overworking, and making time for play.

It’s nice that they also offer a possible solutions visual.

Statistics Say We Should Take Friday Off From Work. All The Fridays, Forever And Ever.

Statistics Say We Should Take Friday Off From Work. All The Fridays, Forever And Ever.

more graphics via Statistics Say We Should Take Friday Off From Work. All The Fridays, Forever And Ever.

behavior · children · disease · environment · happiness · health

Why adult hospitals should be more like children’s hospitals – FierceHealthcare

My hospital has a goat 120/365
One hospital has a goat on their property that patients can see. One way to keep things engaging and fun and not feel like “a hospital.” (Photo credit: Jen R)

It’s not as silly as it sounds; in fact it’s genius!

Hospitals could improve patients’ quality of life, satisfaction and even health outcomes if they simply model adult hospitals after the ones designed for children, according to an opinion piece written by a fourth-year medical student in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mark A. Attiah, who attends Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, writes in the piece, “Treat Me Like a Child,” that adult hospitals should take a page from pediatric facilities by creating surroundings that distract and reduce stress and making clinical practices more patient- and family-oriented rather than more convenient for caretakers.

Attiah was inspired to write the opinion piece after encounters with two pediatric patients during a rotation and another who transitioned into an adult hospital, according to an announcement about the editorial. The children’s hospital was bright, had longer visiting hours and allowed families to stay at the child’s bedside throughout the night. In addition, pediatric patients enjoyed the distractions of group activities, arts and crafts, and concerts. “If I ever get sick, I’d want to be taken here,” he writes.

more via Why adult hospitals should be more like children’s hospitals – FierceHealthcare.

Kid’s hospitals keep stuff light, upbeat, and optimistic. which is exactly what we need to get healthier, and want to go back to a particular hospital for our next ailment, since most hospitals care about that sort of thing.

behavior · brain · creativity · disease · happiness · mental health · Nature · play · psychology

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science – The Buffer Blog

I think I’ve talked about ALL of these tips individually on the blog before, so I’m thrilled that somebody combined them into a “Top 10 With Science!” post:

 

Happiness is so interesting, because we all have different ideas about what it is and how to get it. It’s also no surprise that it’s the Nr.1 value for Buffer’s culture, if you see our slidedeck about it. So naturally we are obsessed with it.

I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.

1. Exercise More (7 minutes might be enough)

2. Sleep More

read all 10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science – The Buffer Blog.

I particularly like suggestion #5.

behavior · brain · disease · happiness · health · play

How to live to 100: advice for life and living longer

At first it seems like the typical “there’s no golden rule to getting old” article, right?

Some of the supercentenarian advice is sweet, some is a bit strange and a couple are everything we’ve always hoped for. Who knew bacon and whiskey were the fountain of youth?

more photos via How to live to 100: advice for life and living longer.

Some appear silly, and some fly in the face of recent studies (for example, married people tend to be healthier, and ergo live longer).

But if you try to generalize the advice, much of it boils down to one thing: have fun, be playful, don’t stress out too much about the details.

If you want to live to be 100, you have to give yourself space to play!

children · disease · environment · health · play

A Medi-Teddy: Wrapping Medical Sensors In A Plushie For Kids

Teddy the Guardian Medical Monitoring in a Teddy BearHospitals and medical device makers are coming to the conclusion that making medical spaces and medical practices more user-friendly and less scary leads to speedier recoveries, shorter hospital stays, and overall just good medicine.

One way to do that is to make the devices less scary, a la a Medi-Teddy. 🙂

The product is called Teddy the Guardian, a plushie installed with sensors that measure heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and temperature, and then relay that data via Bluetooth to a parent’s phone. The sensors are scattered around the bear’s body; pressing a finger to the bear’s paw, for instance, takes heart rate and oxygen levels.

The idea behind disguising medical tech as a lovable toy is to provide parents and pediatricians more accurate, consistent data points. When a child is stressed out about going to the doctor, his or her vital signs will be skewed. Taking data points when the child is in a neutral emotional state can give doctors a wealth of good information to compare against when something is wrong.

Of course, the bear is just as much a tool for keeping parents attuned to their child’s general well-being as it is a medical device. IDerma co-founder Josipa Majić said that for busy parents who don’t have as much time to connect with their kids, the data can show when their child’s day has been particularly stressful or problematic.

Later versions of Teddy will be equipped with sensors specific to different medical conditions, Majić said. Blood sugar level measurements for diabetic children, for instance.

via By Wrapping Sensors In A Plushie, “Teddy The Guardian” Aims To Sell Medical Tech For Kids | TechCrunch.

This is such a great idea to keep kids calm and cooperative during boring and possibly uncomfortable medical procedures. Heck, I know a lot of adults that would probably like to use this.

I’ve previously written about making MRI machines less scary for kids by making them space or aquatic themed, and how a natural view out of a hospital window is correlated with speedier recoveries, but what other things have you seen hospitals do to make it more patient-friendly? Let me know in the comments below.

architecture · community · creativity · disease

Adding art to Belltown, Seattle

This is an ongoing project in Seattle of sprucing up vacant office or retail space with art. It’s a plus for the artists, the building managers since it brings attention to their space, and the passersby who are charging to and from work or tourists who stop and linger a little bit longer to view. Always love seeing updates on new projects by this group.

Storefronts

Storefronts Seattle is proud to announce the first two of three projects in the Belltown neighborhood!

Ingrid Lahti
One Pacific Tower, 2006 First Avenue, Belltown
Through June 2013

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Ingrid Lahti traditionally works in neon, but has branched out into illuminated lighting gels in her new installation at First and Virginia.  Inspired by the saturated color in Matisse paintings and Chinese artwork, Ingrid views the illuminated window pieces as a study on the emotional effects of color and light, fitting seamlessly into the vibrant neighborhood in Belltown.  

These installations glow brightly at night, adding to the street-level nightlife of Belltown and kicking off a summer in Seattle with a burst of color.

Chris Papa
2505 Second Avenue
Through June 2013

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Chris Papa, a local printmaker and sculptor, has installed 5 sculptures at Second and Wall, featuring playful sewn wood sculptures conflating art, craft, and architecture.   Interested in the…

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behavior · brain · disease · neuroscience · play · psychology

A More Resilient Species – Boing Boing

brains!
brains! (Photo credit: cloois)

Happy Friday! After a looooong work week, here’s a little more incentive to make sure you get some time to play this weekend.

[Okay, fine, for all of you who are too “busy” to read the article, here’s a basic breakdown: you need free play in order to recover from stress, and that if we don’t we’re basically setting ourselves up for early brain deterioration and death.

Now will you take a second to read the article?] 🙂

“A playful brain is a more adaptive brain,” writes ethologist Sergio Pellis in The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience. In his studies, he found that play-deprived rats fared worse in stressful situations.

In our own world filled with challenges ranging from cyber-warfare to infrastructure failure, could self-directed play be the best way to prepare ourselves to face them?

In self-directed play, one structures and drives one’s own play. Self-directed play is experiential, voluntary, and guided by one’s curiosity. This is different from play that is guided by an adult or otherwise externally directed.

more via A More Resilient Species – Boing Boing.

architecture · disease · environment · happiness · health · mental health · psychology

Biophilic Building Design Held Back by Lack of Data

Really interesting article about the concept of biophilic design, something I’ve brought up a lot on this sight. In summary, humans love natural environments, so why haven’t our buildings and other spaces moved more in that direction? It’s all broken out very nicely in this post:

THE DIRT


Biophilic design is still at the bleeding-edge of green building design and hasn’t taken off yet. The obstacle may be the lack of data on the impact of biophilic design on health and well-being. Or perhaps it’s because there still hasn’t been that one model site that makes current practice irrelevant. Other possible reasons: “collective ignorance” or a “lack of imagination.” At a session at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) conference in Washington, D.C., some of early innovators in this field, Bill Browning, Founder, Terrapin Bright Green, Jason McClennan, CEO, International Living Future Institute / Cascadia Green Building Council, and Bob Berkebile, a principal at BNIM and an early green building innovator, discussed the many obstacles preventing more widespread use of these approaches and argued for rapidly stepping up research and promotion efforts.

Biophilia, which has been defined in earlier posts, is “the innate emotional affiliation of humans with all living things.” Defined by famed biologist…

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