While there currently isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, there are many dementia care therapies available that have had a proven lasting effect on the symptoms and side-effects of living with the disease. Therapy has a positive effect on memory and cognitive function in people living with dementia. It also helps with anxiety and depression, which they often struggle with due to the confusion, frustration, and isolation that go hand in hand with the disease. Dementia care therapies come in many forms, including the 5 options we’ve discussed below:
As we perform or listen to music, neural pathways all over our brain light up. Nearly every region of the brain is involved in musical activities, as it stimulates connections between both sides of the brain and activates brain areas associated with emotional, cognitive, and memory processing. Music therapy promotes wellness, manages stress, alleviates pain, enhances memory, improves communication skills, and provides unique opportunities for social interaction. Livewell Villages offers a wide range of musical dementia care therapies, which include drumming, playing sing-along songs from the golden years, listening to classical music, access to a variety of musical instruments, dancing, and more.
Art therapy has a calming effect on people with dementia, it also gives them a creative outlet for self-expression when they start to struggle to talk and express their emotions. It helps to alleviate boredom and restore their dignity, as it allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. The activities that are made available at Livewell are carefully planned and designed to be therapeutic for residents; we bring conversation and discussion around their art to boost engagement. Our Arts and Crafts programme caters for residents at all levels of ability, and choose projects that are appropriate and not patronising (but always safe).
Occupational therapists are health and social care professionals who enable people to live life their way – helping people living with dementia to keep up their every day activities and remain independent for as long as possible after they develop dementia. On admission, every resident and their family is interviewed by an Occupational Therapist to put together an individualised dementia care therapy plan that fits their needs and interests. We also do regular assessments thereafter to assess the needs around their work life, self-care, leisure and rest, and incorporated within their personal activities timetable. This enables the Occupational Therapists and Companions to provide dementia care therapies that are best suited to the individual, which maximises the effect of those treatments.
Livewell has researched the benefits of animals for people living with dementia, most of whom positively light up in the presence of a domestic animal such as a dog or cat. Pets can provide a source of warmth and unconditional affection and love. It is no secret that they can have a calming effect and lift the mood. For these reasons, Livewell encourages its residents to keep pets if they wish and are able to, and their loved ones can bring the family dog during visits. Quite often our residents who are showing signs of withdrawing from other people, find pets less threatening, and respond most positively and impulsively to a dog, cat, bird or other pets. At Livewell Villages, we organise therapeutic pet friendly events and outings involving animals throughout the year.
As dementia becomes more advanced, many people seem to retreat into their own world if they are not kept engaged and stimulated. The five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing – are the key to keeping people living with dementia in touch with their surroundings. Sensory stimulation, such as listening to music, tasting familiar childhood treats, smelling herbs and spices, enjoying the tactile sensation of petting furry animals, using our sensory rooms, and our other relaxation techniques, can all help to rekindle memories and provide comfort. It is essential in dementia care to ensure that the person is adequately stimulated according to their individual and constantly evolving needs, but at the same time they should not feel overwhelmed by an overload of sensory information.
While the benefits of these dementia care therapies may seem somewhat intangible, we as carers can observe the very real difference this facility is making to the lives of many of our residents.