Dementia is a serious medical condition that affects roughly 50 million people throughout the world. This condition encompasses a range of symptoms and manifestations that can cause significant decline in physical, mental and emotional health. In addition to forgetfulness, dementia can lead to anxiety, depression and an inability to communicate effectively. Fortunately, several studies have shown that mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be very beneficial for those with dementia.
The Link Between Dementia and Stress
Many health experts believe there is a link between stress and conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some researchers suggest that stress can cause inflammation in the brain which can lead to dementia-related conditions. Other researchers do not feel that stress directly causes dementia, but they suggest it may enhance the potential occurrence of this condition. Most experts within the field agree that regardless of the cause of dementia, stress makes the symptoms worse.
Symptoms of Stress in Seniors
Stress is often insidious. It can come on suddenly and may present differently for different people. Often, it is not outwardly obvious if a friend or loved one is feeling stressed. It’s important to observe behavior very closely and look for any signs of agitation. As a first step, try to identify and remove activities or events that appear to be stress triggers. If this doesn’t have any impact and you feel that stress is exacerbating the symptoms of dementia, contact a medical professional right away. Some symptoms of stress in seniors include:
- Frequent illnesses or infections.
- Abnormal and frequent body aches, headaches or recurring fatigue.
- Difficulty with memory, judgement, focus and concentration.
- Poor decision-making.
- Inattention to personal hygiene and self-care.
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain or loss of appetite.
- Difficulty sleeping or increased nervousness.
Relaxation for People with Dementia
Stress can play a major role in the quality of life for anyone, and particularly those who have dementia. In addition to increasing the symptoms of dementia, stress can negatively impact other health conditions as well. Fortunately, relaxation techniques can often minimize the symptoms of stress. Here are some relaxation strategies to try:
- Participate in an activity that brings personal enjoyment, such as playing card games, gardening, painting, dancing or listening to music.
- Take a walk or visit with a friend outdoors in good weather.
- Create and follow a full daily routine and schedule including personal hygiene, activities and meals.
- Maintain a consistent bedtime routine and follow guidelines for good sleep hygiene.
- Connect regularly with others – friends, family members or licensed counselors.
- Read a book.
- Express feelings by writing or drawing in a journal.
- Practice breathing techniques, meditation, yoga or Tai Chi.
- Exercise daily. Not only does regular exercise reduce stress, it also increases mobility, balance and strength.
- Find a new hobby that brings joy and fulfillment.
High-Quality Dementia Care
Lighthouse Senior Living is passionate about fostering a community that provides a compassionate and supportive environment for residents with memory-related illnesses. Our memory care neighborhood, The Village, provides specialized, dedicated support and a reassuring environment for residents living with dementia. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour and learn more about our community and services.