Therapeutic Approach to Dementia Care
The Therapeutic Approach to Compassionate Dementia Care
One in every nine Americans over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The word dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive impairment linked to a specific set of symptoms. Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulties with language, and notable decline in problem-solving and thinking capacity to an extent that impacts daily life.
There is no current cure for Alzheimer’s disease, however, there are a number of techniques that support those with dementia to continue living their best life. Era Living has successfully implemented these methods within our own communities. From therapeutic environments to the Best Friends™ approach, here are some tools and communication methods you can start using today.
Nurture a Therapeutic Environment with Stimulating Activities
Persons with dementia are highly sensitive to their living environment. Because dementia reduces the brain’s ability to perceive and understand the sensory environment, those with dementia are easily overwhelmed in noisy or chaotic spaces. A therapeutic environment paired with specified therapeutic activities increases stability and quality of life. Scheduling therapeutic activities throughout the day has shown to have a positive impact on both outlook and symptoms.
Beneficial Therapeutic Activities Include:
- Laughter- there is nothing more therapeutic than laughter
- One-on-one social interactions
- Animals- spend time with a friend or neighbor’s furry friends
- Music- playing their favorite music
- Gardening- therapeutic gardens have shown successful outcomes
- Being outside- go for a nice walk or enjoy some light exercise
- Purposeful chores- simple chores like sorting laundry or organizing a shelf
- Trivia or Board Games- exercise the brain while enjoying time together
- Scrapbooking- spend time with some favorite memories
- Playing videos of friends and family members
- Creative time- crafting or painting are both easy and fun to do alone or together
Socialization and activity is, in so many ways, the “treatment” for dementia. Studies have found that individually structured activities reduce symptoms such as agitation, anger, depression, rummaging, and wandering. The most beneficial therapeutic activities weave the person’s lifelong interests into supporting their current sense of self. Light physical activities can be done outside including gardening, planting, weeding, walking, and bending. Further studies find visual access to nature supports a balanced circadian rhythm, increases vitamin D absorption, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress.
Supporters Embrace the Best Friends™ Approach
Era Living is proud to be the only senior living community in the Seattle area to be a licensed provider of the Best Friends™ Approach.
This life-affirming philosophy, used internationally, was first developed by Virginia Bell and David Troxel. The Best Friends™ Approach is human-centered in recognizing that someone with dementia needs a “best friend.” The “best friend” and/or caregiver’s outlook plays an extremely important role in their care. Whether they are family, friends, caregivers, or staff, it’s imperative they act as a positive, helpful advocate to protect and guide compassionately. Those involved in the loved one’s support system should understand and recognize the phases and progression of dementia while maintaining a living record of the dementia sufferer’s life and history.
Best friends participate with one another in a number of ways including building self-esteem, doing things together, working as equals, laughing together, and knowing each other’s personality. This can be extremely comforting for someone progressing through the stages of dementia.
The Best Friends™ Approach involves learning and appreciating your loved one’s life story. On days when they are sad or frustrated, being able to recall joyous and happy memories from their life will bring them to a higher state of mind.
One fun and helpful idea is the Top 10 Card. Create a “mini-memoir” of your loved one’s life to include an itemized list of their ten key personal preferences or achievements. Read it back to them when they need to be reminded who they are. The Top 10 Card is also an easy reference for staff working with your family member in a future care setting.
Era Living’s Memory Care embodies the Best Friends™ Approach and offers an enriching environment with purposeful activities, daily exercise, and excursions. Contact us to learn more about Era Living’s compassionate dementia care.