Training the brain to better cope with Alzheimer’s disease: objective of the FRMV

In 2018, the Rosa María Vivar Foundation promoted a new day center for the Baix Camp Alzheimer Association

The Rosa María Vivar Foundation (FRMV) already has a new project in hand: cognitive stimulation workshops. The beneficiaries will not, however, be people with Alzheimer’s disease or other neurocognitive disorders. The goal is to reach everyone. From September, the FRMV will launch a campaign to raise awareness in society and promote the need “to take care of our cognitive health from childhood and throughout life”, in the words of Anna Martorell, manager of the Foundation.

“We cannot prevent the onset of a neurodegenerative disease, but we can give the brain tools to continue cognitive functions as long as possible in normality; give him strategies to delay the symptoms,” says Martorell, who stresses that you have to train the brain “like going to the gym”. For this reason, it is planned to carry out these activities aimed at people without previous pathologies.

“Where the affectation appears, if the brain has worked on plasticity and generated resistance, it will have designed a strategy to better face the disease. We will not avoid it, but the symptoms will appear later and we will enjoy a longer quality of life,” explains the manager.

The FRMV was born in 2018 with a very specific objective: to provide a solution to the space problems of the day center of the Alzheimer’s Association and Other Neurocognitive Disorders of Reus and Baix Camp. It was then that the children of Rosa María Vivar, a doctor who had diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease herself, launched an ambitious project so that users, including her mother, could have new and better facilities.

The difficulties were not limited to the busy schedule – seven months after the start of the works, an open day had already taken place – but the new day center had to be “pioneering”. “It is made specifically to locate Alzheimer’s patients. For the design, the type of users who have to go there has been taken into account”, values ​​Martorell. A wooden structure that does not give “the impression of being in a health center”, the presence of independent gardens to enjoy nature and continue therapy, the division of users into modules according to the degree of illness that they have… Everything is thought out.

Since the reception of the first users in December 2019, the day center continues to operate under the direction of the Alzheimer Association. However, the tasks of the FRMV are not finished. Now begins the second phase of the infrastructure project. “There is a space on the land that has been left vacant and that the foundation is in the process of designing; think about the additional services needed in the centre,” explains Martorell. “We are studying it with the Ministry of Health to define what the territory needs,” he adds.

Against the effects of cancer
The FRMV does not want to limit itself to Alzheimer’s disease, but also has other projects focused on cognitive health, such as helping women who have suffered from breast cancer. “We were able to detect that this group, following cancer treatment, has cognitive alterations that affect their recovery. Once the treatment is finished, or during it, they continue to suffer from disorders or memory alterations, ”explains the manager. Difficulty remembering people’s names, what they just did…

“Doctors are focused on managing the disease and these are symptoms which, as they are temporary and in the minority, they say will pass, but it really can take years and they have difficulty living their normal lives. , and much more in their professional reintegration. . ”, he specifies.

As a result of the study, the foundation designed an online cognitive stimulation workshop. “Women had been suffering from these symptoms for years and thought they had Alzheimer’s disease when they didn’t, it’s temporary. With a workshop, it is reversible”, concludes Martorell.

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