Dementia, a progressive loss of thinking and memory skills, affects 50 million people worldwide. Up to three-quarters have behavioral and psychological symptoms.
Dealing with the agitation, anxiety and aggression that often come with dementia is one of the most challenging aspects of caring for someone with this brain disorder. New research suggests that massage and other non-drug treatments can be more effective than medications.
Non-drug interventions suggested to ease symptoms of dementia include changes in environment, outdoor activities, recreationaltherapy, exercise, massage, music therapy, and cognitive stimulation as well as caregiver support.
Researchers found that outdoor activities were the most effective for reducing agitation
and aggression. Outdoor activities, massage and touch therapy rank highest for treating verbal aggression. Exercise and modifying daily activities seemed best for dealing with physical aggression, studies report.
Interventions can be simple. A music player with headphones to soothe. If someone is in a nursing home, their room can be decorated with photos and other objects that bring back pleasant memories.
When people have moderate to severe dementia, they have difficulty communicating. They may be feeling discomfort and can't communicate that they don't like a certain chair or that they're too hot. Then they may act out. So, sometimes, it's a matter of small things in the environment that can be changed.
Equally as important as helping ease symptoms of dementia in your loved one is making sure you as their caregiver are mentally and emotionally healthy as well. Realizing that caregiver burden and burnout are real, know that you don't have to do it alone.
Caring Circle of Lakeland has programs to help caregivers in all types of situations, for more information visit caring-circle.org or call 269.429.7100