March 5, 2020
It’s estimated that over 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. This number includes 5.6 million people age 65 and older. While there’s no known cure for dementia, researchers are working hard to develop effective therapies that limit the most common symptoms of dementia and help individuals experience a better quality of life.
Learn more about the innovative memory care therapies helping residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia in assisted living memory care communities.
Many times, recent memories fade faster for individuals with dementia, while long-term memories are easier to recall. Reminiscence therapy invites individuals with dementia to share these memories from the distant past. This type of therapy can be as simple as looking through a photo album and engaging in conversation about people, places, and events from the past. Even if they aren’t able to recount all the details of a particular story, individuals with dementia may feel positive emotions when reminiscing about a fond memory.
Smell is a powerful sense that can trigger memories and feelings from the past. Aromatherapy harnesses the power of smell to encourage relaxation, lessen anxiety and depression, and promote better sleep. Soothing scents like lavender or rose can be particularly helpful in relieving common dementia symptoms like agitation and unrest. These scents can be released by adding a few drops of essential oil to pillows, tissues, or baths, or by massaging essential-oil infused lotion to the hands and feet.
Music can be incredibly beneficial for people with dementia, helping to relieve stress and anxiety and even unlock memories from the past. Beyond just listening to music, music therapy involves singing, humming, clapping, and even dancing along to familiar tunes. Musical instruments like tambourines or bongo drums are also commonly used in music therapy to encourage group participation.
Art therapy is known to help people of all ages, but it can be especially valuable for older adults with dementia. Whether it’s drawing, painting, scrapbooking, or another project, engaging in art therapy provides an outlet for creativity and self-expression that can lessen dementia symptoms like anxiety, stress, and agitation.
Tactile stimulation uses the sensation of touch and texture to help individuals with dementia relieve stress and connect with others. From modeling clay to stuffed animals to puzzles, the list of everyday objects that can be used for tactile therapy is long! Activities like knitting, quilting, crocheting, and gardening also provide meaningful tactile stimulation.
Keep in mind; dementia affects people differently – no two people experience it in the same way. Finding the right therapy approach depends on many factors, including the type and stage of dementia and the individual’s personal preferences.
These are just a few of the many different therapies provided by assisted living memory care communities to improve the lives of residents with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. As researchers continue to study strategies for treating dementia symptoms, new memory care techniques are expected to emerge to support individuals in every stage of dementia.