Unique Issues

SOI and Dementia/Alzheimer’s

I am often asked if SOI can help people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I immediately answer with an emphatic “YES!” In working with SOI for over a decade, I have found that when improvements in brain function are made in a person who does not suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, said improvements remain even after SOI sessions are completed (barring any future damage to the brain). However, once improvements are realized with a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient, the results may not remain after sessions discontinue.

Here’s why:

Dementia is not a disease. Dementia is a set of symptoms, the most prominent of which is memory difficulty (with additional problems in at least one other area of cognitive functioning, including: language, attention, problem-solving, spatial skills, judgment, planning, or organization (the SOI test evaluates all of these). There are many possible causes of dementia; some are reversible, while others are not.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that worsens over time. Alzheimer’s causes the symptoms of dementia that are irreversible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with 100% accuracy while the patient is alive; it can only be accurately diagnosed after death, when the brain tissue is carefully examined by a specialized doctor.

Roy Cunningham with daughter, Pat (circa 1950)
Roy Cunningham with daughter, Pat (circa 1950)

When I opened MindMenders in 2008, I had the privilege of working with my dad, Roy Cunningham. At the time, Dad was 83 years old and was experiencing many signs of dementia: very poor auditory memory, slow mental processing, less language, and withdrawing in social situations. The causes of Dad’s dementia were chemotherapy treatments for cancer and mental inactivity (he had retired 10 years before). Even though my dad never finished high school, I always knew that he was very intelligent, so I was not surprised at the results of his SOI test; many areas of his test were still in the gifted range!

Dad and I had SOI sessions twice a week that fall. After 40 hours of sessions, I re-tested his below-average SOI tests and all areas improved significantly, especially his auditory memory. More important than his improved scores, however, were the comments he received from friends and family members who noticed the improvements in Dad’s demeanor and his increased engagement in social gatherings. People noticed that the “old Roy” was back. After our sessions ended, the mental improvements Dad had made did not regress at all. Two years later, Dad died of heart disease and COPD, but that brain of his was still very sharp up until the very end.

Pat Stafford, Colleen Monier, and Roy Cunningham (2002)

Results for Alzheimer’s patients differ, however. Before MindMenders, I worked at another SOI Center. The director’s mother had severe symptoms of dementia (they were later determined a result of Alzheimer’s). Her mom came to the center twice a week to complete SOI modules and play brain-based games. She was able to regain quite a bit of her brain function and was even able to gain a function of the brain that she never possessed, even as a young woman! The director remembered that, even as a small child, she was always her mom’s navigator. Her mom had no sense of direction, could not distinguish left from right, and could become lost by simply backing out of her driveway. After coming for SOI sessions, she eventually knew her left from her right, and was able to tell someone which way to turn when being driven home!

Things were really looking up for the director’s mother until she had the opportunity to vacation with some friends. After she returned from her two-week cruise and resumed her SOI sessions, she had regressed quite a bit. This taught us that SOI sessions can improve brain function immensely in a brain ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease, but the client needs to continue with the SOI sessions and stimulation of games to retain the improvement.

Should someone still try SOI sessions, even if he is not sure what is causing brain difficulties (Alzheimer’s or dementia)? Yes! It is worth improving a person’s quality of life, no matter what the circumstances, or the time left. Also, SOI sessions not only benefit the client, but family members, as well. I would not trade anything for the time I spent with my dad during his SOI sessions. It was so fulfilling to see the sparkle in Dad’s eyes return as he regained function of his marvelous brain, and I know he appreciated being “his old self” again, up until the very end.

written by: Patricia Stafford, SOI Practitioner

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