Sunday, June 14, 2009

“Preventive gerontologist” specializes in preventing memory loss

Activities directors, caregivers, and healthcare professionals,here is an article of interest.

Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES | If a picture is worth a thousand words, Arnold Bresky believes a painting is worth a million memories.

Bresky, a physician who calls himself a “preventive gerontologist,” has been using art therapy in working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients — and he claims a 70 percent success rate in improving their memories.

“I have 96-year-old people who get better,” says Bresky, 69, who said he believed that encouraging Alzheimer’s and dementia patients to draw and paint exercised their brains and turns back the clock on their memory loss.

“I have patients ... learning to draw and paint for the first time in their lives, and their quality of life improves.”

The work of some of those patients recently was on display at City Hall in Los Angeles as part of Brain Health Month, and Councilman Dennis Zine recognized Bresky with a proclamation.

Patients like octogenarian Yolanda Wood of Camarillo, Calif., swear by Bresky’s program, which is covered by Medicare.

“I’ve been a patient of his for years, and I do his art therapy program all the time,” Wood said. “I’m always drawing, and it’s helped me. It’s even helped me pass my driver’s license test.”

Last spring, Wood was notified by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles that, because of her age, she would have to retake her driving examination.

“I went to Dr. Bresky and I said, ‘Am I going to be able to do this?’ And he said, ‘Of course,’ and we went to work on learning all the driving laws. When I took the test, I made a perfect 100.”

“She’s a better driver now,” said Bresky, “and it’s because of my program.”

Bresky, who gave up his obstetrics practice 12 years ago to work on preventing memory loss, calls his program a “Brain Tune Up,” and includes a multidisciplinary approach that also includes the use of music.

“My program improves the memory function to enhance a person’s quality of life,” he said.

Bresky teaches his program to caregivers and nursing students at California State University, Northridge; Pierce College; and through his book “Brain Tune Up: The Secret for Caregiver Success,” published last year.

At the Sunrise Senior Living facility in Woodland Hills, Calif., Bresky on recently introduced his program to eight residents who had never worked with him before. He got remarkable results in getting them each to draw the face of a person by copying lines and patterns from one sheet of paper to a grid on another sheet.

The results were cubist-like renditions of faces.

By the end of the session, the octogenarian residents of the facility were animated and eager to discuss what they had just done.

“It got me concentrating, and I like that,” Molly Morgan said.

“The more I did this, the more I enjoyed it,” Irene Kowalski said.

The program gets people, especially those who are older and suffering from memory problems, exercising their brains. Bresky said.

“The brain works through numbers and patterns,” he said. “The numbers are on the left side of your brain, the patterns are on the right side. What I’m doing is connecting the two sides.

“And we’re getting the brain to grow new cells. It’s more of preventing memory loss

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