Having a parent, partner or loved one is being diagnosed with dementia can be heartbreaking. As a caregiver, you naturally want to help them in every possible way, keeping them comfortable and supporting their thinking skills, mood, memory, and behavior. But it can take a great amount of effort on both the caregiver’s as well as the patient’s side.
Luckily, there are some steps that can help make life easier for both. These include medication that treats symptoms of dementia as well as other problems brought on by the condition, such as irritability and depression. However, no medication can treat dementia entirely and help alleviate the condition.
Then, there are lifestyle changes that can also help make life better for individuals with dementia. These include incorporating changes in everyday habits and adopting activities such as exercise, taking a proper diet, and performing challenging mind exercises as well as taking a good night’s sleep. Additionally, a braintest review can give caregivers an accurate overview of their loved one’s condition and the extent of cognitive issues they may be experiencing so that they can take care of them accordingly.
Moreover, there are also a few therapies to help alleviate the symptoms as well as make the quality of life better for dementia patients.
These therapies take a holistic approach to caring for a dementia patient. They help jog their memory, enhance their fast-fading thinking skills and brighten their day as well. Make sure to employ some of the ones mentioned below to improve your loved one’s quality of life but ascertain that you don’t leave them frustrated or overwhelmed during the process. Just take it a day at a time.
This therapy entails talking with the dementia patient about their life in the early years to remind them of their fading memories. You can discuss their hometown, school days hobbies and work life with them. It can be done in one-on-one sessions as well as in groups. You can also play music from their earlier years, and make them revisit their past using photographs, favorite items, and treasured possessions to help along.
Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST)
CST is a promising therapy for individuals with mild to moderate forms of dementia. It involves meetings in groups, conducting mentally stimulating activities, such as discussing current events, playing puzzle and word games, and even cooking from a recipe card. Family members can also be trained to provide Cognitive Stimulation Therapy.
CST seems to work as proven by research. A Cochrane review concluded that people who have received cognitive stimulation intervention had a significantly higher cognitive function at the end of the test period. These developments continued even after 1 to 3 months of the treatment. Other positive effects were also noticed, namely improved social interaction and communication, as well as better well-being.
Reality orientation training
This particular therapy retrains a dementia patient to better adjust to the realities of life. So, a therapist goes over essential items like the ailing person’s name, important dates, reading time. Essential things around the house may be labeled, and other information may be placed in frequented areas of the house.
Some caregivers find this practice too patronizing though; so if you don’t feel like it’ll work, drop it. However, there is some evidence that Reality Orientation works. It helps support cognition and enhances the behavior of people living with dementia. But the extent of its benefits is still unclear.
This is a structured and collaborative effort where the dementia patient is made to speak openly about their emotions. Talking therapies seem to work when the patient feels heard and respected for his or her struggles. It helps them adjust to life with dementia and reevaluate their condition successfully.
This is a psychological approach for people with dementia, ensuring that the focus always remains on the individual and that their viewpoints are heard and respected. It also helps alleviate depression, which is great because antidepressants don’t always work well on dementia patients.
Counseling for patients and caregivers
Counseling is a very effective way to provide support and find guidance on dealing with dementia, for both patients and their caregivers.
Right after the diagnosis, the patient can feel lost, vulnerable and confused. Their caregivers may also be afraid of what the future holds for them and their loved ones. They are anxious, and counseling can help calm them down and make sense of living with the condition. Research also suggests that it can play a huge role in helping people with an early diagnosis. With the right counseling, they can significantly reduce the feelings of depression and helplessness.
Anxiety and depression naturally follow after the diagnosis of dementia. However, there is growing evidence that psychological treatments are efficient at reducing these symptoms. But there aren’t many trails and interventions to prove this point.
Ensuring the long-term mental well-being of the people living with dementia is paramount when selecting the right therapy. Psychotherapy has the potential for making life more comfortable for those diagnosed with mild or moderate stages of dementia.
The basics of validation therapy are respect and communication. It aims to show people living with dementia that they are not going to be marginalized and ignored because of their condition. It focuses on their emotional health and does not aim to bring them forcefully into the reality. Instead, it helps them get comfortable as they are, and makes it more positive for them to enter their reality.
This kind of therapy can also help prevent agitated and argumentative behaviors often exhibited by dementia patients.
Music, for dementia patients, is more than just a simple form of enjoyment. It has proven efficacy as formal therapy for managing challenging behaviors. It also does not require the subjects to have long attention spans and can be valuable for triggering memories as well.
Music therapy works well for the elderly with advanced dementia, helping them make sense of their feelings without the need for verbal communication.
These approaches coupled with medical interventions and a little TLC from the caregivers can help ensure the quality of life for those who have dementia. Evidence shows that these therapies can improve the over well bring and moods for the patients as well as their caregivers.