Dementia is a dreadful disease. There are few FDA-approved medications; their results are varied and limited. For more options, consider alternative therapies (i.e. treatments that do not require medications).
In this article, let us explore some alternative remedies to improve the functioning and quality of life for those with dementia.
Music stimulates unconscious emotions and bring back memories. Music affects moods. Singing is an opportunity for them to interact with others. When they recognise a familar tune, their expression changes and oftentimes, they will be calm.
This link shows a documentary on the Music & Memory Program, which not only provides seniors with iPods and gives them access to music, but also educates family caregivers and senior care professionals on how to create powerful personalized playlists to help people with dementia.
Here’s a video of a man responding to music he is familiar with:
People with dementia are often under-stimulated and unengaged. Art is a good way for them to express themselves and evoke memories. Art engages the brain. Art is a fun and relaxing way to express themselves non-verbally.
The benefits of art therapy are: reduce agitation, an improvement in mood, a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Laughter yoga is an exercise where they clap hands, breathe and laugh for no reason. The motion creates emotion. This reduces stress and make them feel positive and relaxed. When they laugh, they are happy. It is a wonderful way to bond with them.
Laughter takes in more oxygen to the body. It generates the “feel-good” endorphins which boosts the immune system.
People with dementia tend to feel bored, lonely and helpless. They are vulnerable to depression. It is helpful to bring these companions into their lives — plants, animals and children.
Animals include cats, dogs, birds and fish aquariums. An animal loves unconditionally and accept you as you are. Furthermore, it is therapeutic to touch and stroke a pet.
The benefits of pet therapy are: positive emotions, decreased anxiety and sadness, calming effect, lower blood pressure, reduced agitation and aggression, and increase in social interaction.
Bring them out for a walk every day. A change of environment and the sound of nature is more stimulating than sitting alone in a confined space.
Physical exercise stimulates the production of hormones such as the endorphins and enkephalins. These hormones help to raise the mood, enhance memory and learning.
Physical exercise can improve balance by strengthening the muscles and help keep an upright posture.
Those who exercise regularly also sleep better — after an exercise, they will feel more relaxed and rested.
In summary, incorporate music, pet therapy, art therapy, laughter yoga, and physical exercise. These will improve the quality of their lives of those with dementia.