Preserving an emotional balance
Disturbances in mood and behaviour can occur as a consequence of dementia. This imbalance can be expressed by the presence of depression, apathy, restlessness, or aggression. Mood disorders, apathy and agitated behaviour are prevalent in nursing home residents with dementia. Many psychosocial interventions are aimed at improving mood and reducing agitaged behaviour. As a consequence quality of life can be improved. Often psychotropic drugs are prescribed for these problems, but the psychosocial interventions are sometimes more effective, without any of the side-effects of medication. Many different types of interventions can be used.
Behavioural therapy aims to decrease the behavioural and mood symptoms that can be associated with dementia, such as depression, agitation or aggression. After identifying the reasons for the behaviour, the therapy uses a problem solving approach where different strategies are adopted to try to change a specific behaviour.
Cognitive therapy aims to slow down cognitive decline, or improve cognitive capacity in people with dementia by stimulating memory and thinking. It involves therapies like cognitive stimulation and cognitive rehabilitation. These therapies use exercises to improve attention, and a wide range of activities, such as word games, puzzles, music, conversations on particular topics and practical activities such as gardening. Typically, cognitive training is carried out by trained staff with a small group of people with dementia at least two times a week.
Interventions tailored to the needs of a person with dementia.
Multidisciplinary interventions often involve changes in the organisation of care for people with dementia. For instance by setting up a special care unit for people with dementia, training staff in specific dementia care skills, organising a multidisciplinary team around a person with dementia. The interventions are often aimed at reducing behavioural symptoms in people with dementia.
Music therapy uses music and other sounds to restore or improve the sense of wellbeing in people with dementia. In music therapy sessions, music can be played individually for a person with dementia, or in group settings. In groups people are often encouraged to actively participate.
The nonjudgmental manner of animals makes them ideal therapists for people in need of a companion, especially those with physical and mental disabilities. Research has shown that therapy animals can stimulate social behaviour in people with dementia and reduce agitated behaviour.
By means of physical activity (sporting activities, games, or body experiences) psychomotor therapy aims to help people with dementia cope with the practical, emotional and social consequences of the disease.
In reminiscence activities, events and experiences from the past are discussed in one-on-one or group conversations. Aids are often used, such as videos, photographs, newspaper clipping books, scrapbooks and life story books. The objective of reminiscence is to offer a pleasant activity and a tool to maintain communication with others. In addition, reminiscing together can also provide recognition and emotional support (also for the informal carer) in coping with the changes or losses that individuals go through as a result of the dementia.
This therapy provides stimulation via the senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste and is usually carried out in a dedicated room. The aim of sensory stimulation is to create a feeling of safety and stimulation, where the person with dementia is in control. 'Snoezelen' is a well-known type of sensory stimulation.