Kate Swaffer, author of the blog, “Living Beyond Dementia” offers valuable insight into alternative and integrative therapies for people diagnosed with dementia. In an effort to share evidence-based research as well as anecdotal research, she chronicles her personal struggles, offers advice about coping strategies, and provides meaningful contributions to a community of people who believe that this diagnosis is not an “immediate pathway to aged care and death.”
In her November 28, 2015 article Non pharmacological interventions for dementia, Ms. Swaffer offers insight into how non pharmacological interventions affect her day-to-day life:
Many (non-pharmacological interventions) have little evidence (yet) to support them. However, they do ensure my life is more positive, meaningfully engaging, and productive. -Kate Swaffer
Here are some non-pharmacological strategies Ms. Swaffer uses and recommends to help dementia patients cope with memory loss, confusion, and depression:
- daily brisk walking for 60 minutes
- strength and balance exercises
- speech pathology
- Transcendental Meditation
- self-hypnosis for pain management
Continuing to learn new things and study challenging subjects is another way Ms. Swaffer copes with dementia in her own life.
For me, studying something I am really interested in is a truly engaging, meaningful and purposeful activity, and excellent neuroplasticity training. So much more fun than Bingo… -Kate Swaffer
Positive psychosocial interventions
In the paper, Psychosocial interventions for individuals with dementia: an integration of theory, therapy, and a clinical understanding of dementia, by Julia Kasl-Godley, Ph.D. of Veterans Affairs (Palo Alto Health Care System), and Margaret Gatz, Ph.D. of the University of Southern California several psychosocial interventions are evaluated for their overall effect on the health and well-being of people diagnosed with dementia. The authors offer this insight into psychosocial intervention:
We take the view that the symptoms and behaviors of demented individuals are not solely a manifestation of the underlying disease process, but also reflect the social and environmental context, as well as the demented individual’s perceptions and reactions. Psychosocial interventions can address these factors.
Here are some of the interventions they evaluate:
Support groups and cognitive/ behavioral therapy
- Helpful for reducing overall stress in early stage dementia patients
- Assists with building coping strategies
Reminiscence and life review
- Provides interpersonal connections for moderate and mild stage dementia patients
- Positive memories persist in spite of an individual’s ability to remember details, which provides a framework for recalling positive past experiences and accomplishments
Behavioral approaches and memory training
- Helpful for optimizing remaining abilities
- Relaxation exercises help minimize symptoms of depression
- Memory wallets help dementia patients retain their ability to communicate effectively about personally relevant facts
- Having a variety of activities and social opportunities available to dementia patients helps reduce confusion
- Ongoing interactions with care providers offers contact and communication that aids in orientation
Accessing the support you need to live with dementia
I strongly recommend speaking out, and up, for yourself, especially if you have dementia. Do not let people without dementia dictate what is best for you, nor tell you how you feel. -Kate Swaffer
Alzheimer’s Association of America
The Alzheimer’s Association of America has local offices in many communities. The Denver, Colorado Alzheimer’s Association Chapter has an active community of people who are coping with dementia in their families. A 24-hour helpline offers support and reliable information, and their caregiver center helps families make the right decision for their specific situation.
Professional non-medical home care services
Remaining at home in familiar and comforting surroundings can be very beneficial for patients with dementia. Even if you or your loved one experiences difficulties performing day-to-day living tasks, it is possible to live at home with ongoing one-on-one care from a skilled home care team that has experience helping people with dementia retain their independence.
Whether you need just a few hours each day and help with some specific tasks, or round the clock 24/7 care, the educated and compassionate staff at Sevens Home Care can help.
For more information on how we can help you or your loved one live with dementia, please contact us.