Have You Tried These Fun, Alternative Therapies for Dementia

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If you have a loved one with dementia, you’ve probably heard about Reminiscence Therapy and other cognitive exercises designed to provide therapeutic benefits for someone with memory loss.

Jayne Byrne, Project Coordinator at a nursing home in Bray comments that, “Often people with dementia and their families feel like things they used to do are no longer an option. Relaxed performances cater to the needs of persons with dementia and their caregivers, allowing them to enjoy a public outing in a safe, comfortable way. This gives them the dignity and confidence they deserve.”

When searching for activities to do with people who have dementia, one can look further than the typical memory-related types. You can find fun, alternative ideas that still come with many mental and physical benefits for someone living with dementia.

Browse these alternative therapies. StoriiCare Activity Professionals offers the ability to easily schedule, record and share activities like these in any home care or care community setting. 

Laughter Yoga

Combined with yogic breathing exercises, laughter yoga is quite literally a group of people in a room laughing. An instructor, in a setting that looks like an exercise class, may begin by leading participants in fake laughter. Eye contact and childlike playfulness may be used to turn fake laughter into contagious real laughter. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that laughter is beneficial for people with dementia. One study found that the effectiveness of laughter was comparable to antipsychotic medications in the ability to reduce agitation, but without the potentially dangerous side effects. Laughter Yoga is especially great for those with dementia because it makes room for laughing without having to understand a joke.

Relaxed Performances 

Many local theatres now offer ‘relaxed’ or ‘dementia-friendly’ pantomimes and theatre performances. Run times are shorter, loud noises or flashing lights are removed, venue staff are specially trained, house lights are generally left partially up and there is no fear of causing a disturbance for other attendees. Performers may engage with the audience more and there is usually a social time afterwards. Often people with dementia and their families feel like things they used to do are no longer an option. Relaxed performances cater to the needs of persons with dementia and their caregivers, allowing them to enjoy a public outing in a safe, comfortable way. This gives them the dignity and confidence they deserve.

Aroma Therapy

Lavender, Lemon and Ylang-Ylang reduce anxiety and agitation. Peppermint stimulates digestion and appetite and can ward off nausea. Rosemary improves memory and cognition. Bergamot, Clary Sage and Sweet Marjoram fight depression and aid sleep. Essential oils can be used in a room diffuser, added to bath, body lotion and body oil, inhaled directly, or used in a warm compress. Whatever is ailing your loved one, there’s probably an oil that could help!

Animal Therapy

From dogs to horses, animals have a special way of keeping people with dementia stimulated and connected to the present. Animals are clinically shown to calm people who are stressed or agitated. With supervision, people with dementia can safely feed, walk and groom animals, giving them a sense of responsibility and focus.

Gardening

Hospitals and senior care settings are increasingly adding Dementia gardens to their facilities. These gardens are designed for the comfort and safety of people living with dementia (clearly indicated non-slip paths, plenty of lighting, viewable by staff, handrails, etc). Successful dementia gardens have included a good variety of plants and trees, herbs with aromatherapy benefits, distinct areas that encourage sensory experiences, and lots of opportunities for digging, seeding and watering. According to The Alzheimer’s Society, “exercising in the garden helps develop the appetite, boosts energy levels and promotes a better night’s sleep. Maintaining, as far as possible, existing skills that give pleasure and confidence.” 

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