Far from being “hocus pocus,” certain “holistic” therapies are now viewed by memory care experts as a legitimate and highly useful form of treatment for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In fact, researchers have found that these types of “engagement therapy” can reduce anxiety and agitation, open sensory channels and provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment that reinforce the individual’s dignity, sense of belonging and connection to the outside world.
Backed by leading authorities, including the Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Association, therapies that utilize art, music, pets, reminiscence and pleasant aromas can measurably improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of those with memory loss.
Going Beyond Care to Enrich Lives
Elaine Austin, Executive Director of Provident Village at Creekside in Smyrna, GA, says, “We understand that living a meaningful life entails much more than the physical support and care we provide. We take a holistic approach to care, offering specialized programming options to engage the mind and promote complete well-being of those in need of memory care. Our holistic programs enrich lives by enabling self-expression and social engagement, while improving self-esteem.”
A Variety of Holistic Therapies Benefit Your Loved One with Memory Loss
According to researchers, holistic therapies seem to open up “a bridge or portal” that enables connections with the outside world. Although the reasons are not completely clear, these therapies appear to “unlock” the individual’s mind and allow self-expression and social engagement that had seemingly been lost during the progression of the disease.
Key types of holistic therapy that have proven beneficial include:
- Music – Research indicates that music is a useful therapy that can increase cognitive function in those with dementia. Your loved one’s favorite music – especially songs from “back in the day” – can provide a pleasant way for them to connect with the outside world, even after verbal communication has become a challenge. Music can reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of the disease. Even in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to sing lyrics to a song from their youth.
- Art – Proponents believe that art and drawing activities enhance the health and well-being of loved ones with dementia in a variety of highly beneficial ways. Art therapy has been shown to improve mood, decrease agitation and outbursts, increase the ability for self-expression and communication, and provide an important sense of accomplishment and purpose.
- Pets – Pets have been found to have a soothing effect on loved ones with dementia by creating feelings of peace and calm while also helping to recreate pleasant memories of their own beloved pets. Dogs and other animals have a unique way of connecting with humans that offers a special sense of comfort, relaxation and well-being.
Says Karin Winegar, author of “Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform,” “The human-animal bond bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the heart and emotions and nurtures us in ways that nothing else can.”
- “Reminiscence Therapy” – Reminiscing about past events, old friends and fond memories is another important way to keep your loved one pleasantly engaged. Try listening to music from your loved one’s younger days, go through old photo albums together, watch classic movies and discuss pleasant memories of happy days gone by.
Says author and Alzheimer’s expert, Christine Kennard, “For people with Alzheimer’s disease, encouraging the act of reminiscence can be highly beneficial to their inner self and their interpersonal skills. It is about giving the person with Alzheimer’s a sense of value, importance, belonging, power and peace.”
- Aromatherapy – This form of therapy usesnatural scents and oils as well as pleasant, familiar smells to minimize anxiety, agitation and aggressive behavior.
- Exercise: For Both of You – Regular exercise is good for general health and also provides a way for caregivers and their loved ones toreduce their physical and emotional stress while improving strength and balance. Additionally, recent research has shown that exercise can reduce and delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Therapeutic Gardening – According to experts on healthy aging, growing and maintaining a garden can be highly beneficial to the mind, body and spirit.
- Having Fun Together – Continue to do the things your loved most enjoys for as long as they are able. Take a walk together or spend some time in the garden. Familiar activities are usually pleasurable to someone with Alzheimer’s.
Smynings Square Memory Care Neighborhood – Designed for Vibrant, Purposeful Living
Adds Elaine, “In our Smynings Square Memory Care Neighborhood, our programming is designed to be engaging and life-enriching. With the support of our compassionate Care Partners, programs create purpose and meaning for residents every day with active pursuits and leisure activities. From baking to painting or simply enjoying familiar music, vibrancy is our focus.
“Our customized activities and programs promote physical and emotional well-being based on each person’s preferences and life story. Our programming empowers residents by helping them enjoy a sense of productivity and providing meaningful social connections and a lifestyle familiar to home.
“Here, loved ones feel comfortable, secure and fulfilled. Their families feel confident, assured and always welcome.”
Your Family Resource for Assisted Living and Memory Care Information
In addition to providing exceptional care for loved ones, Provident Village at Creekside also serve as a valuable source of information, resources and support for area families. We invite you to read our regular articles on important senior care topics or call us with any questions you might have.
Live Vibrantly! at Provident Village at Creekside
At Provident Village at Creekside, we believe vibrant days ensure bright tomorrows, so we’ve created a community where seniors, quite simply, Live Vibrantly! Whether it’s in our Assisted Living Community or Memory Care Neighborhood, each day we celebrate the individuality and strengths of each resident.
At Provident Village, to Live Vibrantly! means that days are filled with joy, vitality, growth and security. It means residents are socially active and personally empowered, with access to the personalized care and support they need to live fully. It means residing in a community where intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and physical care are seamlessly integrated into everyday life.
Our compassionate Care Partners dedicate each day to enriching the lives of our residents. They customize the level of attention and activities to each resident’s specific needs and abilities. Our living environments are warm and inviting, with comfortable furnishings, beautiful fixtures and natural elements that bring the outdoors inside.