When a loved one is suffering from dementia it can be a stressful time for friends and family. Dementia and Alzheimer's can be frightening terms for anyone to hear. While there is no known cure for Alzheimer's, there are some treatment options available.
There are medications which mitigate some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's. These medications cannot reverse the progression of dementia, but they can help cognitive brain functioning in some cases. Medications may also improve mood or psychological symptoms associated with dementia.
Aside from medication, there are activities and therapies that can certainly help someone suffering form dementia. Some of these are listed below:
Reality Orientation - Giving a person with dementia regular updates of current times, places, or people is important to maintain orientation. It is helpful to provide a calendar or schedule for the individual with details of the location, date, season, etc. You may want to give this to the staff at a residential dementia care home.
Cognitive Stimulation - Cognitive stimulation may improve a patient's memory, language and problem-solving ability. Examples include problem solving activities, recreational activities, brain exercises, or social conversation. These interactions can also improve their general quality of life.
Regular Physical Activity - People with dementia often experience a decline in mobility. Activities such as walking, dancing, and swimming may slow down this decline. Physical activity may also improve mood-related issues such as depression.
Sensory Stimulation - External stimulation in any form such as sounds, smells, lights, music, massages, etc. create neural responses, keeping the brain active. Another benefit is improving mood and participation through positive association with smells, sights, and textures.
Reminiscence Therapy - Those suffering from mild-to-moderate dementia often have good long-term memory. Reminiscence therapy involves talking about past experiences with people to bring these positive experiences into their current thoughts.
Animal-Assisted Therapy - Quality time spent with an animal may be beneficial for individuals with dementia, especially those experiencing psychological issues such as agitation or aggression. Interacting with an animal may alleviate negative emotions. This also may improve motor restlessness and promote physical activity through walking with a dog.
Caregivers can also take measures to assist memory by simplifying the daily routine of individuals with dementia. For instance, provide a written schedule of their daily routine placed in a location where it will be noticed and easily read. Also, written reminders for chores such as checking the mail, taking out the trash, general cleaning and hygiene, and locking doors is important. It is important to label commonly used items and make sure things like keys, glasses, medications, and other commonly used items have a prominent place.
While these efforts don't exactly provide an answer or solution for Alzheimer's and dementia, they can certainly help the quality of life for individuals with dementia and those around them. As early symptoms progress a person will probably require a higher level of care in the form of residential homes specializing in memory care. There are many Alzheimer's care facility options available that can reduce stress for family members.
We thank you all so much for the love and care you gave our aunt. This has been a very positive experience for us because of all of you.” —Niece of ActivCare Resident