Perserving 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. Effective interventions that help people with dementia to preserve or regain their balance are mostly provided in group settings. The interventions target the psychosocial consequences people with dementia experience due to their disease, which are often expressed in mood or behavioural problems. Types of interventions include behavioural therapy, continuous day care programmes, but can also involve assistive technology.
Assistive technology can be any form of electronic device that allows a person to perform a task that he or she would otherwise be unable to do. Assistive technology can support people with dementia in any of the following four areas: general or personalised information, practical support with regard to the symptoms of dementia; social contact and company; and health monitoring and perceived safety. Assistive devices include a wide range of items, such as simple 'low tech' calendar clocks, to 'high tech' telecare sensors.
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.
By providing caregivers with skills on, for example, how to reduce stress or avoid social isolation, and information on (medical aspects) of dementia, adverse effects for the person with dementia can be postponed or prevented.
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.
Continuous support programme
Integrated long-term intervention programme for people with dementia and their carers, providing daytime activities and psychosocial support for people with dementia. In addition the program offers psychosocial support, and information on dementia and available services for informal carers.
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.
A therapy tailored to the needs, preferences and possibilities of people with dementia in order to decrease behavioural or mood symptoms. During the activities it is important that people with dementia experience a sense of fun and interest.
In reminiscence activities, events, activities and experiences from the past are discussed in one-on-one or group conversations, in order to preserve cognitive capacities and the ability to participate to normal activities of daily life. Aids such as videos, photographs, newspaper clipping books, scrapbooks and life story books are often used to support the conversation. 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.