Wednesday Workshop – The Different Therapies to Help with Dementia
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. While researchers around the world work to find new ways to treat Alzheimer’s and prevent the onset of dementia, families and caregivers try their best to make good use of the resources available to them. One tool that people may overlook is therapies.
Let’s take a look at a few different therapies that may help ease the person living with memory loss.
- Art Therapy
Out of the many precious memories that Alzheimer’s and dementia steals from a person, artistic ability does not seem to be one of them. As an elderly person slides into old age, creative expression could be the key that unlocks what cognitive illness keeps hidden.
Art has the ability to open the mind, in any person, young or old. While vocal communication is one of the early losses in a person’s battle with dementia, art therapy may lead to creative communication.
The creative arts are an avenue to tap into a non-verbal, emotional place in a person. When they’re given paints, markers, pastels or any kind of medium for art-making, and their hands and muscles are involved, things are tapped in them that are genuine, active and alive. So the creative arts bypass the limitations and they are simply seen as strengths. People suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia still have imaginations intact all the way to the very end of their progressive disease.
Put down some newspaper on a table for your loved one to go to work on. Set out paints or crayons or markers. Whatever they like. In time, they will begin creating their own masterpiece. Your loved one can take in color, form, shape and he or she can process that information in some way that is real, in the moment and it translates in an Alzheimer’s patients’ brain to have some meaning.
- Music Therapy
Many Alzheimer’s patients can remember and sing songs even in advanced stages of the disease which is long after they’ve stopped recognizing names and faces. Assisted living facilities and memory units often use music as recreation since it brings patients pleasure. Although, beyond the entertainment value, there’s growing evidence that listening to music can also help stimulate seemingly lost memories and even help maintain some cognitive functioning.
We’ve found that music engages areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in memory. Findings suggest that music can help the brain organize incoming information. Also, research shows that listening to music releases dopamine (the happy chemical) in the brain.
For people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, music therapy can help maintain cognitive levels and enhance overall brain functioning. In home care, incorporating music into your treatment plan may be a beneficial tool. A personalized music playlist in an iPod can be an effective way to promote well-being and enhance someone’s quality of life.
- Pet Therapy
Studies have shown that when a person has a connection with an animal – it can assist them to feel more socially involved and that seniors, when visited by an animal are more receptive to medications, therapies and even nutrition.
Animal interactions have a way of bringing back memories of past pets. Suddenly a daughter finds out that when her Mom was 13 she had a dog named Sadie that wore dresses or the grandson who listens as Grandpa tells of his faithful hunting dogs and their mighty conquests.
Pet Therapy is especially beneficial to people living within the late-stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Since it is difficult for these people to communicate clearly, pet therapy offers a different kind of communication. The simple act of petting a dog will speak for itself. People are able to communicate with the animal in different ways like, playing or petting.
Adding animals to your caregiving routine can be a bit of a hassle, but the memories and smiles you share with your loved one might give you the incentive to find this type of therapy just purrfect!
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being.
The inhaled aroma from these “essential” oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing.
As caregivers, aromatherapy and essential oils can help us and our loved ones, with a variety of ailments. For example, you can manage stress relief with Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, and/or Vanilla. Anxiety and fear can be managed with Bergamot, Chamomile (Roman), Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine and Lavender. Fatigue can be alleviated with Basil, Clary Sage, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Sandalwood and agitation can be reduced with Chamomile (Roman), Lavendar, Mandarin, and Sandalwood. To help boost memory, Basil, Cypress, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary can work wonders.
While these forms of therapy cannot cure a person’s dementia, they can offer substantial rewards that a person may not otherwise receive in such an impaired state. These come from personal accomplishments, the satisfaction of completion, and simply the joy of the process. These therapies allow their true self to be expressed when it otherwise can’t.
To learn more or to speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!