People who have dementia benefit immensely from therapy, this includes cognitive therapy and physical therapy from professional dementia therapists. It has been proven that regular and structured therapies can slow down the progress of the disease and help to improve mobility and behavioural mood. Providing therapy services to someone with dementia is much more complicated than giving therapy to someone with normal cognitive function. For example, someone with dementia may struggle to grasp certain types of information and will certainly find it challenging to retain all the newly learnt skills. Retaining information after a session with a dementia therapist is crucial, as it is often required for that person to carry-over those skills learned in therapy when at home, in a safe manner, and to remember to practice those skills daily as well.
A special kind of therapist
Someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease needs a special dementia therapist, someone who is trained and comfortable with the adaptations needed when administering therapy to the memory impaired. These are normally very compassionate people, with the patience and creativity to find different ways to communicate with patients with certain challenges.
Techniques to get the message across
Obviously the disease requires dementia therapists to make several adaptations, these could be a few different techniques. A therapist could break down each step of the process into much smaller processes that are more manageable and memorable.
Repetition is a good way to instil new skills and provide information. Many physical skills may become muscle memory with frequent repetition or a repetitive schedule (do the same things in the same order with each session).
Another technique that a dementia therapist could make use of is visual cues to help trigger a memory to carry out certain responses. For example a phrase on a piece of paper or object that is meant to trigger a memory, such as:
- Hang an outfit on the cupboard to remind them to put on clean clothes or dress to the climate
- Their medicine measured out for that day in a metered outbox
- Their toothbrush with toothpaste on it to remind them if they haven’t brushed their teeth
Visual clues keep dementia patients feeling more independent and in control for longer, they are also easily adjustable to the person’s ability. Visual triggers also do not rely on language as this is one of the first challenges that dementia sufferers start to struggle with. Dementia therapists can work closely with the patient’s carer to devise appropriate triggers throughout the progression of the disease.
Taking the message home
One of the more difficult aspects of helping a dementia patient is the carry-over of the skills learned in the therapy into the home setup. Making that transition successfully relies largely on what adaptive techniques are used by the dementia therapists and then the reiteration of those same techniques at home.
If the carer is made aware of and trained to utilise, the adaptive methods that the dementia therapist uses then the therapies are far more likely to be more successful for the patient. If there is proper communication and cooperation between the dementia therapist, family members and caregivers, then triggers and reminders can be set up and physical therapies carried out in a way that is safe and helpful to the person with dementia.
Few families can give this level of dementia care to their loved one or elderly parent without outside professional help. People with dementia require specialised dementia care in a dementia care facility that is tailored to suiting the needs of someone at any stage of the progression of the disease. If you would like to know more about dementia therapy, dementia therapists or dementia care, please get in touch with us.