Local man helps Alzheimer’s patients retain mental acuity

By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld….

Alberto Fernandez

Alberto Fernandez was the activities director at Greenbriar Nursing Home in Kendall for 22 years and in that time he noticed there was a need for books on activities for seniors in Spanish, especially those with Alzheimer’s.

“There are lots of books in English but not in Spanish,” he said. “I find so many friends who didn’t know what to do. In 20 years I had a lot of materials and I thought why don’t I put it together in a book?”

So he wrote Activities En Español, a book of games and exercises for those who provide care to senior adults suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and related disorders. He put in tips based on his many years of experience. He wrote the book so it can be used by an activities director in a facility or by family members working with someone one to one. Fernandez pulled money together and had the book published.

“These are things that I did experience over the years. I know they work,” he said. “They have activities that keep the patients cognitively active. Activity of the brain is the best medication. Beside all of the drugs we can give these patients.”

Fernandez said the brainteasers are particularly important for those patients who are being taken care of at home.

“So many of the Latin culture, they leave the elderly in the home,” he said.

The upside is the love and attention the seniors get. But he says the downside can be faster deterioration because they aren’t getting some of the activities that can help slow down the Alzheimer’s.

“I have a few things for Cubans specifically that have to do with their history,” he said. “I added a lot of jokes by sections. They are nursing home approved.”

The jokes can be put together into a routine to get the seniors into the right frame of mind to do the mental activities.

“I think the sense of humor is one of the last things that we lose,” he said. “It works to reach somebody.”

The book has word games as well as math games. It even has a simple crossword puzzle using three-letter and four-letter words. One chapter covers blackboard games.

“These are failure free,” he said. “No one is going to fail. Everything is fun.”

While the games sound like fun for everyone, Fernandez said you can’t apply them to kids.

“It’s based for the elderly. For people who were around,” he said. “There are genetic things.”

While Activities En Español can help those in early Alzheimer’s, its not applicable for patients who are in their last stages of the disease.

Although Fernandez is retired as an activities director, he still goes to nursing homes and senior centers as a musician. When he’s not performing, he’s selling his book to nursing homes, home healthcare services and other adult assisted living facilities.

“Day care centers are using them too; nursing homes, of course,” he said.

He has set up a website to sell the publication, www.activitiesenespanol.com.

“Online is the information on how to order it by sending check or money order.” he said.

For more information go to the website or send email to alberto@activitiesenespanol.com.

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