Identifying Cognitive Impairments

“We can not solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.”
Albert Einstein

I am not a Doctor.  I am an expert in me…an expert of my body.  If I learned anything from the journey of losing and then regaining my cognitive abilities and memories, it is this…
My body is wiser than my words are available.
When I struggled to string together words to form coherent sentences, my body continued to communicate information through the five natural senses and what is identified as the Sixth sense.  It was through this communication with and through my body that I understood my mind was not working properly and eventually, what I needed to do in order to return to a healthy state.  I believe this wisdom is available to everyone, in and through their own body.  I recognized this wisdom as God, ever present and guiding me through the darkest days. While I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that I was not alone, I did not always feel that way. As a result, I decided to raise awareness and educate others on the issues surrounding brain health.

According to information provided by the CDC in “Cognitive Impairment: A Call to Action, Now!” There are now more than 10 million family members providing unpaid care to a person with cognitive impairment, a memory problem or a disorder like Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. As I type this, the numbers are growing and possibly includes you or someone you love. Nearly 16 million Americans are living with cognitive impairment.

What is cognitive impairment?
Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday
life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. With mild impairment, people may begin to notice changes in cognitive functions, but still be able to do their everyday activities. Severe levels of impairment can lead to losing the ability to understand the meaning or importance of something and the ability to talk or write, resulting in the inability to live independently

What causes cognitive impairment?
Cognitive impairment is not caused by any one disease or condition, nor is it limited to a specific age group. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in addition to conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and developmental disabilities, can cause cognitive impairment.

What are some common signs of cognitive impairment?
• Memory loss.
• Frequently asking the same question or
repeating the same story over and over.
• Not recognizing familiar people and places.
• Having trouble exercising judgment, such as
knowing what to do in an emergency.
• Changes in mood or behavior.
• Vision problems.
• Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks,
such as following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills

Alzheimers, dementia, PTSD, and strokes are just a few neurological diseases and disorders that can affect cognition and memory. Some causes are well known, well funded and actively researched. Others may not be. Lesser known disorders or side effects from medications may not receive much attention and therefore struggle to gain awareness. Thus education may seem limited leading to the perception that treatment and prevention are all but impossible.

I hope to shift thinking.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above symptoms, please contact a medical professional and know that you are not alone.

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Why do I use a Planner? What is Bilateral Planning? How are Pageant Queen Principles incorporated?

A planner is more than a calendar.

A planner is a tool to help manage projects.  

Those projects can vary from keeping your house in order, to operating a business from home; from keeping your ministry accountable and out of the red, to balancing school and work life.  

To-do lists can be as varied and unique as individuals are, therefore a system for managing those tasks should be designed to meet those needs.

My unique need for a project management system, which I call a planner, came as a result of losing my cognitive abilities.  My memory, both short and long term, were affected. Read the story here.  As I began the arduous task of rebuilding my life, I quickly realized the need to relearn many skills that had once been second nature.   

At that time, my sister introduced me to the creative community of decorative planning and I quickly realized my brain worked differently as it healed.  Some days, analytical tasks like reading, list making, and counting were too difficult or incomprehensible and I leaned heavily on the creative skills associated with the right side of the brain and could surround myself with light and laughter.  Other days, color and sound were distracting and overwhelming, causing anxiety and sending me into a panic attack so I leaned towards quiet, solitary activities that gave me a sense of calm and order like reading or listmaking.

I began studying how others approached project management for productivity.  Soon, I discovered that while humans use both sides of their brain for different tasks, we have a natural bent towards relying on one side or the other.  Some of us are more artistic in nature and operate from a right-brained perspective. Others are more analytical in nature and operate from a left-brained perspective.

Before the trauma that led to a cognitive decline and memory loss, I believed myself to favor a left-brain perspective and therefore engaged in traditionally left-brain activities, rarely pursuing those requiring a right-brain nature.  During the healing process, I read much on the subject of neuroplasticity and how to “remap” the brain by continually challenging myself to learn new things. I learned, through trial and error, how to work through the anxiety and panic of not being able to think through, and therefore follow through, with simple activities.  

 

Bilateral Planning is HOW to plan for productivity and success.

I needed to have a project management system that worked with my brain whether I was able to think with the right or left side on any given day.  I believe this approach helped me heal quicker and regain much of my former cognitive abilities. While experimenting with different ways to “remap” my brain and learn information, I created a project management system called bilateral planning.

Bilateral Planning is a system of task management that allows for flexibility while maintaining efficiency.   I utilize a framework for left-brain task and time management in addition to a space for creative thought processing.   This system has allowed me to accomplish goals that would have otherwise been out of reach.

Take this quiz to discover whether you are left or right brain dominant.

 

Pageant Queen Principles are WHAT you plan.

Incorporating Pageant Queen Principles within the Bilateral Planning framework creates a balanced system for efficiency, productivity and ultimately, success – whether your goals include capturing a crown or corraling a kindergarten class.  

Join me on my YouTube channel as I share techniques for creating a system that meets your needs.  Be sure to download the FREE printables so you can plan along with me in upcoming videos.

 

Morning Routine|Free Printable

“Behind every impossible achievement is a dreamer of impossible dreams.” -Robert K. Greenleaf

“Your brain has the ability to change and develop physiologically, and it does so based on how you use it. You have the ability to strengthen and develop your brain by thinking about a compelling future for yourself, by regularly and repeatedly thinking about an inspiring vision where you emotionally connect with the life you desire. You can train your brain to act on your vision just by thinking about it. The first step is creating an inspiring vision and learning how to stay connected with it.” – from 12 Week Year

For me, training my brain to act on my vision is found in the routines.  We are creatures of habit and as Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right.” 

What you think about – you bring about!  

This happens whether you are being intentional with your thoughts and actions, as with following a morning routine, for example.  Or whether you are unintentional with your thoughts and actions, which by the way turn in to habits…

the habit of sleeping in because you can … 

the habit of taking a shower whenever you think about it … 

the habit of sitting on the couch all day, because “Why not? I have no where to go.”… 

the habit of self-imposed isolation which can and does, lead to depression.

For the 31 Days of Planner Fun Challenge, I am sharing my morning routine with you here along with a free printable you can use in your planner to help you get started with creating your own morning routine.  Or if you already have one, perhaps this can help you keep it front and center whether you actually place it in your planner or hang it on your wall next to your bed so you see it each morning (I may or may not do this) 🙂 

I find scheduling my morning routine into my planner helps me stay accountable to myself, my vision.  The truth is, whether you have a morning routine or not, your body and life will show it.  Having a routine will help your brain TRUST that you will take care of it…this goes for other routines as well, evening and sleep routines, work routines, family obligations and chore routines, the list can go on and on.  

When your brain trusts you, it is free to turn off the “flight or fight” survival mode and focus on strengthening and growing in the areas you are being intentional about. Your vision and goals become a reality when you are less stressed or have an effective routine for dealing with stress.  

A morning routine can help to start the day in an optimal state.  I focus my routine on three areas of my life, Being, Body, Brain.  Actually, all of my planning and routines revolve around these three categories.  

When I am consistent with my routine, I am more alert, engaged, productive and able to handle the stressors of life.  Because let’s face it, stress happens but how we respond to stress determines the outcome.  

Download your FREE PRINTABLE here and tag me on social media with how you are implementing it.  

Join me this month for all things planner related, OneBookJuly2018 and 31 Days of Planner Fun on social media at:

Facebook and Instagram as @theorganizedmiss

YouTube @Deanna – The Organized Miss and check out

31daysplannerfun

Goals – How to set and reach them

Ask people closest to me and they will tell you that I am a highly creative person and have a ton of great ideas.  In fact, someone very close to me, my brother-in-law, made the following statement yesterday. “This is the first time I have ever known you to complete something you have started and you have been staying on task for the past year now.”  True statement. Starting one project after another is not a challenge for me…it never has been. What has been a challenge in the past was completing those projects and accomplishing those goals. So what is different now?

One word…organization!

I have found the organizational system that works for me.  Oh, I have tried so many ways (think Franklin Covey) to stay organized in the past but to no avail.  Why? Because I was trying to think the way someone else thinks and therefore I failed every time. I didn’t fully understand how my brain worked and as a result felt I like a failure.  My daughter pointed out that I have taught her how to fail and keep trying again. Each failure was a lesson in what doesn’t work for me.

The challenge then became about learning what would work for me.  We are all different but there are some similarities we can focus on when determining how to set and reach goals.  I am a highly creative individual who thinks outside the box and needs an organizational system that works with my thinking style. My brain vacillates between a left and right brain thinking styles so I am not predominantly a left brain, list making planner, nor am I predominantly a right brain, visual planner – rather I am a mix of the two and fluctuate on a daily basis and therefore need to have separate systems set up to help me stay on task when my brain changes gears.  ←- This was a HUGE “aha” for me!

Because I didn’t understand that I needed the two different styles, I would fail to reach objectives when using a left brain, list-making logic-based approach and my brain starting thinking in its creative right hemisphere.  Now, I have a planning system, Bilateral Planning, that allows me to alternate between the two formats as quickly as my brain shifts gears…that can be pretty fast…and I am able to stay on task and reach my goals.

Are you a predominantly left brain, list maker who needs to see everything, structured and in black and white, or in digital form?  Are you predominantly a right brain, creative who needs a lot of real estate on your paper to doodle, draw or color code? Or, are you like me and need a combination of the two?  Knowing this one aspect of yourself, how you think, will help you tremendously in your goal setting process.

Learn more about Bilateral Planning and receive a FREE printable to help you start designing your own organizational system!

Bilateral Planning

The brain. We all have one and use it every day. But how often do you actually think about the thing that helps you think?  Aside from an occasional headache, deja vu or perhaps a dizzy spell, you may not give it a second thought.  Instead, allowing your brain to operate and orchestrate the myriad of bodily functions it is in control of. Breathing is the first activity that comes to mind and is an important (dare I say THE most important) function that affects every other aspect of your life.

I admit I didn’t give a lot of attention to my brain health before 2013.  All of that changed in what seems like an instant to me but actually spans the course of approximately 10 years.  I say approximately because I don’t know.  I can not actually recall, in order, many of my life events from 2008 to 2016.  That’s not to say that I don’t remember anything.  I do, actually, and I am remembering more and more as time goes on.

While I have been in the pursuit, along with medical professionals, to determine the cause of the cognitive malfunctions and memory loss resulting from severe headaches (for lack of a better word), I embarked on a brain improvement journey near the end of 2016.

This journey, or science experiment as I like to refer to it, lead me to try many new things as brain exercises during the past year.  After much researching, I discovered I was actually giving my brain the best chance at recovery by aiding in its plasticity.

Enter OneBookJuly2017 and my dive down the rabbit hole of all things planner related, paper organization and habit tracking. Over the course of July, and the ensuing months of 2017, I learned what would work best for me.  While planning and organizing thoughts are unique to individuals, I discovered something about myself and noticed a pattern emerge within the planning community.

I found that part of the time I planned and benefitted from using a traditional, list based, heavily worded system.  The other part of the time, reading and writing words and therefore following the system was overwhelming or just plain difficult due to my struggles with recall and retention. As a result, I began looking for or creating stickers to create word-picture associations in my mind.

I quickly discovered the need to dual plan my time using two weekly spreads and began “Bilateral Planning”.  One weekly spread communicated the information in a language my creative right brain would understand using pictures when the left side was not connecting properly and reading words was difficult.  Another one communicated to my logical left brain, the events and tasks needing my focus when the nerves in my right brain would misfire, and looking at colors and pictures were distracting.

 

Both of these layouts communicate the same information for the week of October 30-November 5, 2017.

This “ah-ha” moment led me to research planning styles and I decided to incorporate both and identify it as “Bilateral Planning”.  For me, the repetition in planning aides in memory recall and improves my retention.

If you or someone you know struggles with completing tasks, whether it results from a memory issue like mine or some other challenge, I believe bilateral planning can help.

Sign up for my Newsletter and receive a FREE printable to start Bilateral Planning.

FACT: Being active is associated with a lower risk of brain issues.

Want to track your health and wellness to encourage and promote activities geared toward creating and maintaining a healthy brain?  Check out my Health and Wellness Tracker

 

 

 

October Daily – Junk Journal with Me

In my effort to continue challenging and healing my brain, I have been inspired to participate in an October Daily journal challenge and I had to add my own twist.  

The challenge is to journal daily throughout the month of October (and I hope to video it as well and post it to my YouTube channel).

I have decided to use this journal time to challenge myself to participate in activities that engage the left brain, logic-based activity (i.e. math, science, history, sequencing) on odd number days of the month.

On even number days, I will participate in activities that engage the right brain, creativity based activity (i.e. paint, draw, write, play music, crochet, using your imagination is the key and your only limit).

I created this image as a visual prompt and show you how I will use it in my video.  

Feel free to print it out and use it as you follow along with me on this journey.

OctoberBrainDump

If you decide to join me in this challenge, share what you’re doing with the hashtag #odjjwm and tag me on social media.

IG: @theorganizedmiss

Facebook: @theorganizedmiss

YouTube: The Organized Miss

 

The SetUp

After initial research into how I am going to structure my planner for One Book July 2017, I have decided to transfer all of my necessary planning and project management into a pocket-sized TN (traveler’s notebook) from The Planner Society.  

behindscenesOBJ17setup

Behind the scenes of my YouTube setup video

The OnebookJuly2017 Challenge is to use One Book and One Pen for One Month.  However, there are no rules save for the rules you may set for yourself.  The goal, as I understand it, is to “get back to basics” and streamline or in some cases, learn what you need to be successful in your planning routine.  

Since I am a goal planner, I have included my current projects in each area (Being, Body, Brain) to help me reach my goals.  My goal for One Book July is to streamline all of my planners into one carry along planner/wallet that I can have to track EVERYTHING!  In order to keep moving forward, I need to assess where I am in any given project, once I evaluate my progress I can decide if I need to make changes or not.   

What I have learned so far:

  • Sometimes, I can not focus and am easily distracted.  When this happens I need to step away and do something else, usually a craft project, like mixed media to help my mind get clear and refocus.  Then I can come back to the task at hand.  It is helpful to know this about myself because I don’t get as discouraged and take a long leave of absence from my goals.
  • When I am riding the struggle bus, I need my planning system to have a structure and functional form to help me stay focused and follow my plan.
  • When I am hyperfocused, I need the real-estate that white space provides.
  • Having this self-knowledge is helpful in knowing which system to work out of at a given time to help me keep moving toward my goals instead of getting frustrated and giving up.

Knowing how you operate and researching the tools to help you is key to setting yourself up for success.  

Visit my Resources page to find the inserts I am testing as well as other valuable information I will add from time to time.

See you next week for an update to One Book July 2017 !!