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Three Useful Therapies for Alzheimer’s Patients

Everyone is affected when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or escalating dementia. A number of different therapies have been invented in order to help patients cope with these progressive disorders. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, and there is often no cure for related forms of escalating dementia.

The three therapies in this article were invented to help with the day-to-day quality of life for those afflicted. They have proven successful in alleviating both the stress on caregivers, and the daily stress that the patient goes through in coping with their progressive disease.


How to Introduce These Therapies to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

It’s important to be careful when introducing any of these therapies to those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. There are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to remember that these diseases do not define the person suffering from them. The way the disease makes a person act has nothing to do with who they really are, so it’s important to remember not to mistreat them merely because they are acting out.

It can be frustrating to care for people who have Alzheimer’s disease or progressive dementia, but a caregiver must remember that the disease is the reason for the frustration. The person does not intentionally wish to be frustrating. If the patient doesn’t respond to a therapy, try something else. Never force a therapy on a patient.

The second thing to remember is that these therapies are not meant to cure anything, but rather, to improve the quality of life for caregivers and their patients. There should be no set goals or tasks for the patient to complete, and nobody should be upset if something goes awry. The single, solitary purpose for these therapies is to provide happiness and satisfaction within the lives of all those connected with the disease.

The last thing to keep in mind is that caregivers need to be flexible and watchful. Therapies for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients should be tailored specifically to the person and their life prior to diagnosis. It’s also important to remember that the patient may eventually get bored with a therapy. This is natural. Caregivers must be watchful and mindful of these subtle changes, and adjust the therapy accordingly or look for new activities.


Baby Doll Therapy

Experts in the field of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease remind caregivers to avoid treating the patient like a child, even when the patient’s activities suggest that it would be appropriate. If the patient is an adult, they must always be treated as adults.

It may be shocking to then learn that one of the most successful therapies involves giving Alzheimer’s and dementia patients dolls to play with. Baby doll therapy has proven quite successful in many different cases.

These are not the dolls meant for kids that can be purchased at toy stores. Baby doll therapy uses dolls specifically made for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. These dolls look as realistic as possible. Two popular online sources for baby doll therapy products are The Alzheimer’s Store and Best Alzheimer’s Products.

Baby doll therapy is not meant to be “playtime.” The person should not be given the doll and told what to do with it. Instead, the doll should be left around for the patient to discover. It’s up to the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia to decide what to do with it.

Most people assume that baby doll therapy only works for women living with these diseases. That isn’t true. While men aren’t as apt to respond to baby doll therapy, many actually do.

When successful, baby doll therapy absorbs the patient in day-to-day caring for the doll. They will hold the doll for long hours, rock it back and forth, and coo over it. This brings focus and hours of calm behavior which caregivers appreciate. Baby doll therapy is an excellent first option to try out.


Music Therapy

Most successful therapies for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease attempt to conjure memories of the patient’s past. They have trouble accessing recent memories, but past memories are often still there in detail. Music therapy can be the key to accessing those memories.

While the patient’s ability to cope with short-term memory deficits can lead to frustration, anger, and agitation, their ability to access long-term memories may lead to calm and thoughtful behavior. There is even evidence to suggest that accessing such memories improves their cognitive functionality. Music therapy often brings about such changes.

Any music that brings comfort and contentment is worth trying during music therapy. The caregiver should do their best to identify music that the patient is familiar with, as those with Alzheimer’s and dementia may immediately identify past times when they heard it. This in turn can help to bring back many different important memories. Even when the patient cannot recall any specific memory of the music, they may find it comforting to hear nonetheless.

Sometimes, the patient may be asked about the memories that the music therapy session is bringing back. This helps the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient to feel a sense of control over memories that they haven’t accessed in quite a while. Music therapy clearly has many benefits to both the patient and the caregivers.


Art Therapy

This is a hands-on strategy that encourages those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia to create something. Art therapy gives them a sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and may unlock memories as well.

It’s important to remember that there are no set goals in art therapy. The act of creation is what’s important, not finished products. Art therapy can also unlock lost motor skills, and can help with social interactions through increased focus.

In some cases, art therapy is not recommended. Dementia patients who were once artists can be angered or depressed when subjected to memories of their artistic talents. In such cases, art therapy must be avoided.

Like all other therapies, art therapy may work best when the patient is allowed to explore aspects of their life. Drawing a picture of their old home, for example, may conjure up memories that help them feel in control. Art therapy can also just be an open ended, calming experience. It has proven to be quite successful in many cases.


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