Coping with Dementia: Psychological Treatments for Seniors

By June 20, 2014Dementia

While it doesn’t look like scientists are going to find the cure for dementia anytime soon, psychological treatments can help to make at home care much more successful. If seniors can cope with the symptoms of dementia more effectively, their quality of life immediately improves.

As with every plan of care, it’s important to speak with the family physician before starting new treatment activities at home. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Cognitive Stimulation
Cognitive stimulation, as the term implies, represents the activities or exercises specifically designed to boost brain activity and health. Seniors who take part in activities that stimulate the brain can help to improve memory, problem-solving skills and the ability to hold a conversation. A strong brain can help keep dementia at bay for extended periods of time. Some of the best cognitive stimulation activities include memory and word games that work to ensure older adults remain alert and oriented to person, place and time.

Cognitive stimulation can help improve thinking and memory skills in seniors diagnosed with dementia. What’s more, in-depth research on the benefits of brain stimulation led the UKs National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to recommend these activities for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia.

Validation Therapy
Validation therapy focuses on dementia from an emotional perspective. At its core, validation therapy works on the premise that each and every behavior exhibited by those with dementia has an emotional meaning.

Let’s say an adult daughter is providing at home care for her elderly mother, when she suddenly becomes extremely agitated. The mother yells over and over again that her husband is late for dinner, when, in reality, her husband has been dead for several years. If the daughter tells her elderly mother that her husband is no longer alive, she could become even more confused and combative.

When using validation therapy, the daughter’s response might be something like “Dad’s running just a little late for dinner because traffic is so bad.” Once the thought is validated, caregivers immediately offer some kind of activity to occupy the senior’s mind. Experts believe validation and distraction help to decrease stress levels, while also acknowledging their feelings and concerns are being heard.

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