There is currently no cure for Dementia and in addition to medication, psycho-social approaches are equally important. They can promote mental performance and daily living skills, mitigate behavioural disturbances and improve wellbeing.
Prof. Thomas Kitwood (1937-1998) was a pioneer in the field of Dementia care and he proposed that a person-centred approach should be the bedrock for supporting people with Dementia. Person-centered care is a way of providing care to people by focusing on the person's uniqueness and preferences. Kitwood identified six psychological and social human needs, love, comfort, identity, occupation, inclusion, and attachment, that have to be met, in order to maintain a good sense of well-being. Kitwood, unlike other authors, did not organise these needs hierarchically, rather, he considered it, as a set of interconnected needs which act cooperatively. They all start from the same base,
"Unconditional Love. This is the kind of love which is generous, unconditional, acceptance and forgiveness, which asks nothing in return (Brooker, 2007)." (Paquete,2018).
Occupational Therapist are applying Kitwood’s model in different ways and BLC is proud to collaborate with Patrícia Paquete from HumanaMente who developed a well being plan for people living with Dementia.
Watch the video on YouTube to learn more.
Research suggests that artistic engagement may help to ease common behavioural symptoms of dementia like anxiety, agitation and depression. It may also boost mood and self-esteem, and possibly help stimulate memory. Doctors and researchers are not exactly sure why creative expression remains intact in people living with dementia but art therapy can be extremely beneficial and rewarding for patients and by having a beneficial effect on those with dementia, caregivers may find relief as well.
Sabine, the BLC founder was touched by Dr. Daniel C. Potts story who founded Cognitive Dynamics after his father Lester Potts death in 2007. Lester, a rural Alabama saw miller, became a renowned watercolor artist while living with Alzheimer’s disease, despite having never shown any artistic talent prior to its onset.
In people living with dementia Music Therapy aims to address the emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts, and memories to give freedom, stability, organization, and focus.
Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Executive Director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) stated in an interview with beingpatient.com that Music Therapy allows people to be creative and expressive and to build short-term memory skills. Songs can be found which help connect people living with dementia and their loved ones. Music may also be used as a mnemonic tool, creating a little melody or rhythmic pattern to help somebody recall and memorise their phone number or address.
Watch the movie from Parkinsound Orchestra, a project promoted by the Municipality of Braga and Braga’27 to see the power of music and how it supports people living with a Neurodegenerative Disorder.
The best known approach studied on a scientific level is the use of Tango for Parkinson's disease, but because of the multiple benefits that this dance has, it is used worldwide in institutions and hospitals to address other diseases including Alzheimer’s. It is a coordination activity that forces the patient to exercise his memory to remember the steps. Tango not only heals the body, but it is also good for the mind.
Besides Tango, dance/movement therapy has been shown to be effective in people living with Alzheimer´s since it stimulates social interaction, enhances mood, reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms and increases self-awareness and self-expression.
BLC is collaborating with Maria Eugenia Brandulo who offers Tango Therapy in Portugal.
Lifelong maintenance of physical activity is linked with a higher late-life cognitive state.
A study has shown that simply walking for over 2 hours a week for 1 year can lead to improvement of cognitive function.
Chair Yoga is a great option to keep people living with Dementia active. Research has shown that the Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga Program can help to significantly improve the balance control of older adults with Alzheimer’s. The program is standardised and and tailored specifically for older adults who are unable to engage in traditional yoga due to physical weakness, fatigue, or fear of falling.
The program involved twice weekly, 50-minute chair yoga sessions. The sessions included 10 minutes of breathing exercises (pranayama), 20 minutes of physical postures (asana) in a chair designed to strengthen and stretch muscles and improve flexibility and balance, 5 minutes of physical postures dedicated to improving balance control, and 10 minutes of relaxation and guided visualisation.
BLC is collaborating with Victoria Mitchel from 6 Senses Yoga