Dementia therapies may help relieve symptoms in people with dementia. There are many different therapies available, but researchers have found that some may be more effective than others.
Dementia is the general name for symptoms that affect a person’s memory, thinking, and decision-making. Several underlying brain conditions can cause dementia. Dementia is not a typical part of aging, although older adults are
There is currently no cure for dementia, but treatment can help relieve symptoms. Dementia therapies can improve the quality of life, mood, and symptoms of people with dementia.
This article discusses different therapies for people with dementia and whether studies have found them effective.
Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, is a process where people talk through their experiences with a mental health professional. Talk therapy helps people with dementia
- troubling emotions
In reminiscence therapy (RT), people talk about things and events from their past, such as:
- favorite possessions
RT helps people focus on their skills and achievements instead of dementia.
Researchers assessed the benefits of RT on people with dementia in this
- quality of life
- mental functions
- communication abilities, especially in group or community settings
They also found that the way therapists deliver RT can produce different results. They found that individual RT had more of an impact on cognition and mood, whereas group RT in a community setting was possibly associated with improvement in communication.
Therapists use cognitive stimulation therapy (CST)
- problem-solving skills
- communication abilities
- quality of life
- anxiety and depression symptoms
CST consists of group exercises and activities, including:
- physical games
- word games
- practical activities, such as baking or gardening
- discussing present or past events or other topics of interest
- number games
- team games
The researchers noted that their study had limitations, including a small number of participants. This could make it difficult to make general claims about the effect of CST on dementia.
In reality orientation training (ROT), therapists and people with dementia discuss:
- the current time, date, and season
- current events and surroundings
- the person’s name, memories, daily routine, and personal items
Researchers in this study from 2015 investigated the effect of ROT on people with mild to moderate dementia. They found that 6 months of ROT sessions improved mental abilities.
Occupational therapists help people with dementia improve their ability to complete activities or tasks by:
- identifying and simplifying meaningful activities, allowing people to engage with them more
- removing distractions or stress from their environment
- working with carers to adjust their environment, allowing more task participation and enjoyment
Researchers reviewed occupational therapy (OT) benefits in this
Hand massages may have benefits for people with dementia. In this
They found that massages may reduce stress and agitation for people with dementia. However, they recommended further research to confirm their findings.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machines use electricity to activate a person’s nerves. Some scientists believe TENS machines
Researchers investigated TENS machines for dementia treatment in this study from 2017. They found TENS machines helped older people with dementia improve their balance and walking skills. However, the researchers noted that they did not investigate whether these were long-term benefits.
There is no medication for the underlying brain condition that causes dementia. However, doctors can treat people’s dementia symptoms with some medications.
Doctors prescribe various medications for different types of dementia. The most common types of medication are cholinesterase inhibitors and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists.
Cholinesterase inhibitors (CI)
In this study from 2021, researchers concluded that cholinesterase inhibitors gave modest benefits that persisted over time. They also concluded that only galantamine significantly reduced a person’s risk of developing severe dementia.
NMDA receptor antagonists
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists help stop the effects of dementia on learning and memory. One
People with dementia may also be able to optimize their cognitive functions with lifestyle methods,
- getting plenty of sleep
- being physically active
- treating any hearing or vision loss
- reducing stress
- eating a healthy and balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- reducing or avoiding eating processed foods or red meat
- reducing or avoiding alcohol consumption
- treating any underlying conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
Underlying medical conditions and other factors can lower cognitive function. These tips may not work for everyone, and individuals can speak with a doctor for more information on lifestyle changes based on their circumstances.
Scientists have proven the benefit of many kinds of dementia therapies. Although doctors cannot cure or slow down dementia, some therapies can help improve symptoms for people with dementia.
People can discuss all treatment and therapy options with their doctor. A combination of therapies and medication may be the most effective way to manage the symptoms of dementia.