Organic dementia and other cognitive diseases have dramatic and negative impacts on patients’ quality of life. While there are no effective treatments to reverse these degenerative diseases, there is plenty of help available when it comes to managing them. Read on to find out about seven effective therapies for improving the lives of patients with dementia.
Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can benefit substantially from finding a creative outlet. That’s where art therapy comes in. Caregivers can find treatment for their loved ones that includes art therapy at local memory care facilities.
Playing word games such as crossword puzzles can act as a protective factor against cognitive decline even in patients who already have mild dementia. Find crossword puzzles too challenging? Try a word search game instead.
Reminiscence-therapy involves stimulating the brain by encouraging patients to create scrapbooks, tell personal stories, re-read saved letters, and participate in other familiar activities. Those who are experiencing only mild cognitive decline associated with dementia may be able to participate in familiar indoor and outdoor activities like baking or gardening with the help of a therapist or caregiver.
Daily living tasks like personal grooming, getting dressed, and performing basic chores can help to retain brain function in dementia patients. An occupational therapist who specializes in memory care can teach patients new ways of performing daily living tasks if they have become more difficult due to physical infirmity or cognitive decline. These exercises can be extremely helpful in maintaining or improving brain function.
Play or Listen to Music
Recent research has shown that memories associated with music cannot be lost due to Alzheimer’s disease. Listening to beloved songs from a patient’s earlier life is an excellent way to encourage patients to stay engaged. Learning how to sing or play simple songs on an instrument will also offer a creative outlet while teaching something new to encourage ongoing function in an aging mind.
Draw a Map
After returning home from a visit to a new place, dementia patients may benefit from drawing a map of the area. Not only will it help them solidify their memories of the day, but it will also exercise the areas of the brain responsible for spatial recognition, memory formation, and fine-motor skills.
Exercise the Taste Buds
Memories formed using a variety of senses are more likely to stick since they activate different areas of patients’ brains. Patients can try playing memory games with themselves while eating such as identifying particular ingredients in a dish like the subtle tastes associated with certain herbs and spices. Using different senses, other than just sight and sound, can exercise different areas of the brain, improving brain plasticity.
The Bottom Line
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be devastating, but it isn’t the end of the world. Dementia patients and their caretakers should do everything possible to incorporate new experiences into the patient’s daily life, encourage personal expression, and stimulate existing memories using techniques like reminiscence therapy.
Patients can balance independent brain games with group activities like art classes, occupational therapy, and interacting with other family members to share their most cherished memories from their earlier lives. That way, everybody wins.