Dementia is a progressive disease and ultimately cannot be cured by any therapy. Although there are medicinal approaches that are supposed to keep brain performance, no active substance has yet been found that would revolutionize the therapy. It is therefore all the more important to preserve the patients' functional abilities for as long as possible after diagnosis.
In therapy, playful approaches can help to actively animate the patients.
Different approaches can be taken to achieve this. On the one hand, physical exercise remains important because it keeps you healthy and movement patterns can be maintained for longer. To address the mind, it is important that patients receive individual therapy. For musicians, a particular instrument and it's use can be important, artists may be interested in the latest exhibition in town.
By now, there are various therapy devices on the market that are intended to help dementia patients. Some of them can be purchased for home care, others are specially designed for care facilities. One such device is the "Tovertafel" (magic table). Games can be projected onto a table via a device on the ceiling. For example, leaves can be "wiped away" or you can play memory with large cards (see our video below from REHACARE 2022). The games are intended to help maintain the cognitive abilities of those playing for longer.
Tovertafel at REHACARE 2022 (video)
Through the various game options, there are almost always points of contact that are interesting for the dementia patients and encourage them to participate. They are not unlike the so-called exergames, which are now frequently used in the rehabilitation and therapy of various neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease. How these therapies can also be used for dementia, however, still needs further research.
You can find more on the topic of exergames at REHACARE.com here!
Feeling, seeing, hearing – aids come in many varieties
We have already introduced the ícho therapy ball to you in this article "Living with dementia: practical tools make daily living easier". Do you also know the PARO seal? She also works interactively and has been a regular visitor to REHACARE for many years and is a small technological miracle. She wants to address people suffering from dementia via the emotional level. To do this, it makes sounds and interacts with the users. This is made possible by sensors and an artificial intelligence inside. Many nursing homes and institutions now rely on such social robot animals. The advantages: The animals always meet hygiene standards and never get old – unlike real animals.
Various robot animals for people who live with dementia are offered in the trade: Puppy dogs or cats, for example. Whether a social robot is a useful therapy supplement for the individual person varies. Some can get involved with the artificial being, others cannot.
A supportive network is important with dementia
In addition to all the aids and accompanying therapies, one thing is particularly important with dementia – a network so that you do not have to face the tasks alone. Contact persons can be, for example, associations on the topic of dementia/Alzheimer's disease. They often support families and their relatives to enable them to live better with dementia. Different associations are active depending on the country you live in. In most cases, the local authorities and health insurance companies can provide information on this.
Habits that help to stay mentally fit
We can all do something to keep our minds alert. Here are some recommendations:
Social encounters are good for us. Talk, laugh and enjoy singing and making music together!
Keeping up to date by reading daily newspapers, books and magazines.
Dare to do new things! If you only walk on well-trodden paths, you cannot form new neuronal connections. The brain needs stimulation.
Exercise, sports, dancing – preferably in a group.
Mental arithmetic, puzzle games, memory games.
Of course, these tips cannot prevent dementia. The disease is triggered by a pathological change in the brain. But according to current research, it can be delayed. Primarily through a healthy and stimulating lifestyle.
Simone Ernst REHACARE.com
In the REHACARE database, you will find exhibitors who deal with the topic of dementia.