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How to Use Nonmedical Therapies to Support a Senior with Alzheimer's

When an older adult in your life has Alzheimer’s disease, finding ways to help them live a richer, more meaningful life is likely one of your goals. For many, working around a loved one’s limitations might feel difficult or even impossible. Fortunately, a wide range of research illuminates how nonmedical therapies can help.

Creative Ways to Improve Quality of Life

Here are a few ideas to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia live their best life:

  • Music: Experts from the Alzheimer's Association say music’s healing harmonies can play an important role in creating meaningful days for people with dementia. Even those with more advanced memory loss can sing along to their favorite songs. Music often triggers happy memories from younger days.
  • Animals: Visits with furry or feathered friends can help older adults with memory loss feel happier and more engaged. The very act of petting a dog or cat or bird-watching helps calm agitation and anxiety. It’s one reason you’ll often see bird aviaries and dogs in memory care communities. If it isn’t realistic to have a pet in your home, call your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to see if they know of local therapy dogs who visit seniors’ homes.
  • Art: Studies also show engaging in creative projects can boost mood for people with dementia. This may be especially true for those whose verbal skills are impaired. Self-expression through art can be beneficial. Activities don’t have to be overly complicated to be engaging and meaningful. Simple painting or drawing projects are easy and inexpensive.
  • Gardening: Another activity that can help an older adult with dementia find more joy in life is gardening. Planting and caring for flowers and herbs can be accomplished even as the disease advances. Raised beds and containers make gardening safer for older adults.
  • Exercise: Physical activity increases self-esteem and happiness. Exercises such as walking, stretching, and chair yoga don’t rely on short-term memory. They are beneficial to both the adult with Alzheimer’s disease and the family caregiver.
  • Aromatherapy: Scent can trigger memories. It can also boost or soothe moods. Knowing when to use which scent is the key. Studies show lavender and lemon balm reduce agitation and anxiety. Peppermint can stimulate appetite, while citrus can improve energy.

You can test each of these alternative types of therapy to see which ones connect best with your loved one.

Visit Sunrise Senior Living

At Sunrise Senior Living, we take an individualized approach to caring for adults with dementia. From environment to dining to daily activities, no detail is overlooked in our Reminiscence Memory Care Program. Call us at 888-434-4648 to learn more or to schedule a visit at a Sunrise community near you.

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

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