Dementia Action Week 2019: Approaches for an increase in wellbeing.

Have you ever forgotten where you last placed your keys or double booked an appointment? Well the headline is, that common-or garden forgetfulness shouldn’t be confused with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Irritating as forgetting someone’s birthday may be, we all experience a dose of memory lapse from time to time. It is quite common for those in later life to encounter increasing episodes of forgetfulness but it is important to recognised when there are developing cognitive problems leading to something more serious. we recognise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease have greatly improved over the last decade and now it is being identified much earlier on in life. This condition is alternatively known as Dementia and the most common cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms include constant loss of memory, issues with thought processing, problem solving and language:  

Unfortunately, the condition is progressive with numbers of cases rising in the UK but at the same time, new and innovative approaches are being developed for those in their later years who might otherwise in the past have been passed by. 

Everybody is different: while some of us will continue to be as active as possible, others will try to optimise their quality of life to reduce the impact of dementia. While normally living in a world of the present time, there is evidence to suggest those with severe dementia do respond to familiar stimuli even in the most advanced stages of the condition.

You may be surprised to know how much difference you will make by regularly talking to someone who at first seems unresponsive, even if it is as little as 10 minutes per day. The soothing effects of a familiar voice could stave off anxiety attacks whereas the more agitated episodes will possibly occur less frequently. If you have a loved one who is living in a care home, the staff can keep up a dialogue within a daily routine of interaction with a resident. Given certain personal information about the patient’s background, a loved one is kept regularly incommunicado. Talking about the patient’s interest and hobbies, particularly about enjoyable pass-times while they were well, is a good starting point to encourage familiarity. A Befriending option with a local organisation might be available to provide both regularity and stability based on a volunteer making a connection with someone living nearby who has dementia.

Read here some of the current approaches and therapeutic innovations to improve life for those with this progressive condition. 

Doll Therapy: “The use of dolls can bring great benefit to some people with a diagnosis of dementia, particularly those in later stages. It involves making a doll available to the person to hold or to sit with.” – Dementia UK: https://www.dementiauk.org/the-use-of-dolls-in-dementia-care/

Jelly Treats: To combat dehydration. BBC News 20.09 Watch: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/health-45579586/jelly-treats-for-people-with-dementia?intlink_from_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Ftopics%2Fcxw7vvy6dqmt%2Falzheimers&link_location=live-reporting-map

Tactile Stimulation: “This type of stimulation is concerned with awareness of texture and touch. sandpaper, plastic fruits, and pine cones can also be used in tactile stimulation.” SAMVEDNA http://samvednacare.com/blog/2018/04/09/5-types-of-multi-sensory-stimulation-for-dementia-patients/

Music Therapy: “Music accesses different parts of the brain than language, so music can be used to communicate or engage with someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, even if they no longer speak or respond to other people’s words. Playing soothing music to a person may inspire an emotional reaction in them. Playing music that meant something to them, such as a favourite song, a piece of music from their wedding, or a tune they used to sing to their children, can tap into powerful memories and emotions.” – Dementia UK: https://www.dementiauk.org/music-therapy/

Talking Therapy: “Talking therapies encourage people to talk about their thoughts and feelings, and how these affect their mood and behaviours. They are delivered by a professional, such as a counsellor, clinical or counselling psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or nurse. Each will have been trained in the respective approach and have a recognised qualification that is monitored by their professional body or the Health and Care Professions Council.” – Alzheimer’s UK: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/treatments/talking-therapies

Art Therapy: When working with people who have dementia, it is far more productive to communicate using emotional and creative centres rather than logic and memory centres. This is why art therapy for Alzheimer’s is such an effective means of improving quality of life. Painting and drawing, even sculpting, are common hobbies. All are excellent ways to relax, but creating art is more than just a recreational pastime. Art provides a way to reach inside ourselves, to put on paper or some other medium.” – Best Alzheimer’s Products: https://best-alzheimers-products.com/alternative-therapy-for-alzheimers/art-therapy-for-alzheimers

Toddlers and Early Years: “In a bold new experiment, the first of its kind in the UK, a group of toddlers head to a dementia day-care centre to share three days of time and activities with adults in their 70s and 80s. Overseen by expert psychologists from Bangor University, north Wales, this ambitious project tests if children might be the secret weapon in helping fight the sometimes crippling effects of dementia.” – BBC News 23.06: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b3kk1h

Photographic Treatment: “Photographic Treatment was conducted in collaboration with neurologists, gerontologists and psychologists to provide an image-based therapeutic tool for dementia patients. Improve the quality of life of elderly people with dementia by staging “photo interventions.” They’re individual or group sessions that focus conversations on images she curated over the span of three years.” – CNN 20.08: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/20/health/photographic-treatment-dementia-photos/index.html