It’s estimated that over 55 million people worldwide live with dementia, and that number is expected to increase as the population ages.
While there is no cure for dementia, many proven interventions can help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. These interventions can be divided into three broad categories: medical, social, and environmental.
Medical interventions include medications that can help slow the disease’s progression or alleviate symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Social interventions involve providing support and assistance with activities of daily living. And environmental interventions include making changes to the home or other living environment to make it more dementia-friendly.
While each person with dementia will have different needs, combining these interventions can help improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers.
Behavioral therapy can help patients with dementia cope with changes in their abilities and manage symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and aggression. In a 1997 study (one of the first to study non-pharmacological interventions for dementia), 60% of patients who participated in behavioral therapy sessions showed significant improvements in their symptoms.
Behavioral therapy ultimately increases the number of pleasant events and activities in a person’s life, which can help to improve quality of life and reduce the negative impact of dementia.
Performing daily living activities is an integral part of maintaining independence and quality of life for people with dementia. Occupational therapists can help patients by working on activities tailored to their abilities and needs.
For example, an occupational therapist might help a patient with dementia practice using utensils to continue to feed themselves or teach them how to use adaptive equipment to help with grooming. These interventions can help patients maintain their independence for longer and improve their quality of life.
Cognitive stimulation is an intervention that targets mental abilities. It can help to improve memory, language, problem-solving skills, and executive functioning and can be done in several different ways. One common approach is encouraging patients to engage in activities requiring mental effort, such as puzzles, card games, and brain teasers. Another method is to regularly provide patients with new information, such as reading aloud or discussing current events.
Exercise has many benefits for people with dementia, including improved physical health, mood, sleep, and cognitive function.
Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk or doing some light stretching. It’s important to find an activity the patient enjoys and can physically do.
Modifying The Environment
It may seem counterintuitive, but changing the environment can help people with dementia. Memory care patients may not recognize their surroundings or be able to navigate them as they once could, which can cause significant stress and anxiety.
Some simple environmental modifications that can help reduce stress and anxiety include:
- Keeping the home clean and uncluttered
- Removing rugs or other items that could cause a fall
- Putting up pictures or other visual cues to help orient the person
- Making sure there is adequate lighting
It’s important to remember that people with dementia can still communicate, even if their ability to do so is not what it once was. There are a number of ways to help facilitate communication, such as:
- Speaking slowly and clearly
- Using short, simple sentences
- Asking open-ended questions
- Encouraging the person to express their feelings
Engaging In Enjoyable Activities
One of the best things you can do for a person with dementia is to help them engage in activities they enjoy. This could be anything from listening to music to looking at old photos together. Doing things that make the person happy can help to improve overall mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and provide a sense of purpose.
Lighthouse Offers Proven Interventions For Our Memory Care Residents
At Lighthouse, we know that memory care is much more than just providing a safe place for our residents to live. We also offer a variety of proven interventions that can help to improve the lives of our memory care patients. If you would like to learn more about our approach to memory care, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us or schedule a tour of our facility.