According to experts in the field of memory care, a variety of holistic therapies using music, pets, art and other approaches are now considered a useful and legitimate form of therapy for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Both the Alzheimer’s Association and the Mayo Clinic have acknowledged their role in improving well-being and quality of life.
Holistic Therapies Can Create a Sense of Calm and Connectedness
Memory care researchers explain that holistic therapies seem to open a portal to the outside world for those with memory loss. This enables a higher level of social engagement and self-expression that previously seemed lost as their memory loss progressed.
Clinicians and researchers say that these therapies can “reduce anxiety and agitation, open sensory channels and provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment that reinforce the individual’s dignity.”
Likewise, author Elayne Forgie, President and founder of the Alzheimer's Care Resource Center, states that sensory stimulation, such as an environment of pleasant sights, smells and sounds, will enhance your loved one’s quality of life. Paintings and pictures on the wall, a wind chime outside the window, a bouquet of flowers for its color and fragrance and relaxing music on the radio can help to decrease your loved one’s agitation and restlessness as well as improve their sleep.
Carmen Duren, Executive Director, at Provident Village at Canton in Canton, GA, says, “Today, leading memory care communities, such as Provident Village at Canton, fully embrace the value of proven holistic therapies. We’ve seen first-hand that certain holistic activities help to improve our residents’ physical, mental and emotional well-being.
“Because we recognize that each of our residents has a unique history and personal story, we customize our programs and activities to make each experience as relevant and meaningful as possible. This includes our holistic therapies, which can range from listening to their favorite music to painting whatever they’re inspired to create.
“Here, holistic therapies are used to engage, inspire and add joy to the lives of our memory care residents while improving their mood and overall quality of life.”
Types of Holistic Therapies You Can Use at Home
Experts suggest the following types of holistic therapies that have been shown to be beneficial to loved ones with memory loss. These examples can be very useful to at-home caregivers who are seeking to engage with their loved ones in positive ways.
- Music – Researchindicates that music is a useful therapy that can increase cognitive function in those with dementia. Your loved one’s favorite music 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 sing lyrics to a song from their youth.
- Art – Art therapy proponents believe that art 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.
You can read more about the value of music and art therapy at “Music, Art and Alzheimer's.”
- 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.”
The Mayo Clinic article, “Pet therapy: Man's best friend as healer,” offers more good information on animal therapy.
- Reminiscence Therapy –It has been shown that reminiscing about old friends, past events and pleasant memories is another useful way to keep your loved one engaged. Try going through old photo albums with your loved one, listening to favorite music from your loved one’s younger days and discussing fond memories from “back in the day.”
According to Alzheimer’s expert and author, 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 and Physical Activity –Regular exerciseis 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. Recent university research has also shown that exercise might actually reduce and delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Try taking a walk with your loved one to a favorite place.
- Enjoy Time Together –Continue to do the things your loved most enjoys for as long as they are able. Watch an old movie together or spend some time in the garden. Familiar activities are usually pleasurable to someone with Alzheimer’s.
By applying these types of holistic therapy techniques at home, you can help to reduce your loved one’s symptoms of anxiety, agitation and apathy while increasing their levels of social engagement, self-esteem and sense of well-being.
Discover Enriching, Purposeful Living at Our Vibrant Memory Care Neighborhood
Adds Duren, “If your loved one is reaching a point where they require a greater level of care and supervision than you can adequately provide in the home setting, we invite you to visit our beautiful new memory care community.
“Our Main Street Memory Care Neighborhood combines an environment that fosters moments of joy, independence and wellness with luxurious, purpose-built residential living and truly compassionate, respectful care. It’s also a place where families can turn to for hope, support, guidance and comfort.
“Our care model is designed to promote as much autonomy as possible, even as your loved one’s memory loss progresses. Here, residents may stroll freely in our secure living environments, both indoors and out, allowing them to maintain a sense of freedom while we keep them safe.
“At Provident Village at Canton, our residents and their families enjoy true peace of mind and take comfort in knowing that, with us, every day is filled with vibrancy, humor, fun and joy.”
Live Vibrantly! at Provident Village at Canton
At Provident Village at Canton, 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.