Advice by Alicia: What Non-Pharmacological Dementia Interventions Can Help My Loved One’s Challenging Symptoms?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a challenging journey, especially when faced with the complex symptoms that often accompany the condition. While medications are commonly prescribed, non-pharmacological interventions can also play a crucial role in managing and alleviating challenging symptoms.

Bridges® by EPOCH communities are memory care experts, and we offer a wide variety of programming and activities that help those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. We’re here for families who are seeking resources as well as exceptional memory care communities for their loved ones.

In this blog post, we’ll explore a range of non-pharmacological dementia interventions that caregivers can incorporate into their daily routines to enhance the well-being of their loved ones.

Cognitive Stimulation Activities

Engaging the mind is vital for individuals with dementia. Incorporating cognitive stimulation activities can include puzzles, memory games, or even simple conversations that stimulate memory recall. These activities not only provide mental exercise but also contribute to a sense of accomplishment.

Reminiscence Therapy

Looking back on positive life experiences can be a powerful tool. Reminiscence therapy involves discussing past memories, viewing photo albums, or even watching home videos. This not only provides a sense of continuity but also helps individuals connect with their personal history.

Reality Orientation Therapy

For those with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, reality orientation therapy, which aims to decrease confusion and behavioral symptoms by orienting the individual to the present, can be effective. Compassion and appropriate use of this therapy are important, and this type of therapy should be discontinued if it causes stress.

You can try discussing current events, calendars, seasons, or those who have relationships with your loved one.

Validation Therapy

This form of therapy focuses less on facts and more on validating a person’s feelings and emotions during times of confusion. You’ll communicate within the person’s frame of reference and avoid correcting or contradicting it, which can make them feel listened to and supported.

Validation therapy can alleviate stress, promote contentment, restore dignity, and decrease behavioral challenges.

A teenage girl with mother and grandmother playing the piano at home.

Music Therapy

Music has a powerful impact on individuals with dementia. Whether it’s listening to familiar tunes or participating in music therapy sessions, the rhythmic and melodic elements can evoke emotions, trigger memories, and improve overall mood. Consider creating playlists with your loved one’s favorite songs or exploring local music therapy programs.

Art and Creativity

Encouraging artistic expression through painting, drawing, or other creative outlets can be therapeutic for individuals with dementia. Art provides a non-verbal form of communication and a means of self-expression, fostering a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Physical Exercise

Regular physical activity has numerous benefits, both physical and mental. Tailor exercise routines to your loved one’s abilities, whether it’s a short walk, chair exercises, or gentle stretching. Exercise can enhance mood, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being. At our communities, physical activity is just one part of the full lives our residents lead.

Sensory Stimulation

Engage the senses through activities that involve touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. This could include aromatherapy, textured objects, or soft music. Creating a sensory-rich environment can promote relaxation and decrease agitation.

In addition to this, we also want to ensure we are modifying the resident’s environment to reduce potential stressors. This can include low noise and light levels, or a comfortable room temperature.

Pet Therapy

The companionship of animals can have a profound impact on individuals with dementia. Whether it’s a visit from a therapy animal or having a pet at home, the presence of animals can reduce feelings of loneliness and provide comfort. You can even bring your pet from home when you visit a resident!

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dementia care, integrating non-pharmacological interventions into your caregiving routine can significantly improve your loved one’s quality of life. Experiment with different activities, and observe which ones resonate best with their preferences and needs. Remember, the key is to create a supportive and enriching environment that promotes dignity and well-being. That’s the core of our beliefs here at Bridges® by EPOCH.

Dedicated, Expert Dementia Care

As memory care experts, Bridges® by EPOCH communities stay on top of all types of treatment and support available for those with dementia. If you’d like to learn more about how our enriching personalized care plans can support your loved one, contact us today.

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