This is a first article for the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center, with plans for more to come. I thought a quick introduction of MindStart would be a good place to start.
For years now, I have been aware of the great things that the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center does -not as a caregiver but as a health-care professional. Although where I am in Minnesota is a long way from the Center in Florida (and a world apart weather-wise!), the values of my company, MindStart, has much in common with that of the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center. We both strive to support people with dementia and the needs of their caregivers, but in different ways.
MindStart was founded in 2010 out of a need I recognized while working directly with people with dementia. I am an occupational therapist and have worked with people with dementia in various capacities for over 15 years. The idea to create MindStart came at a time when two parts of my life intersected. First, I had been teaching new home health aides at work about how the regression of the person with dementia parallels the progression of the development of a child. Second, in my home life, I was raising 3 children of different ages, who were at different stages of development.
When I took note of the wooden, peg piece puzzle that my 2 year old had compared to the 24 piece jigsaw puzzle my 5 year old had and the 50 piece puzzle my 7 year old had, I wondered why we could not have the same progression of puzzle difficulty for people with dementia as we do for children – but with adult themes and images. After trialing some puzzle prototypes with people with dementia and adapting the design to meet their needs, MindStart was born! We are a family-based business, with my husband, my mom, and my oldest, now 12 year old daughter, all pitching in.
Since starting in 2011, we have added more products, such as adapted word searches, picture books, adult color books, and more. All our products incorporate the same 4 features:
- Simpler designs with fewer steps and less detail
- Adult-oriented themes to stimulate memories and encourage reminiscing
- An appropriate level of challenge for various stages of dementia
- Help for caregivers by providing activities that engage the person with dementia
In addition to designing and selling products, I write quite a bit on all topics related to dementia, based on my experiences working with many patients and families over the years in occupational therapy. There are so many challenges that arise and that change day to day, sometimes even moment to moment.
But there are also strategies and solutions that can make life easier and better. Watch in the coming weeks as I will be sharing strategies with you that others have found helpful in dementia care, as MindStart works together with the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center to continue to support those who are touched by dementia.
Monica Heltemes is an occupational therapist and founder of www.mindstart.com – a company that designs and sells activity products for dementia care. For a free dementia activities tip sheet, go to http://tinyurl.com/qb2sxh8.