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Therapy Options for Those With Dementia

August 27, 2019

By John DenBoer, PhD, clinical neuropsychologist

Dementia is a difficult thing to deal with. Many people across the world suffer from some form of dementia, with Alzheimer disease being the most common. As a dementia specialist, I have seen how people can struggle when suffering with dementia. From needing comfort to a distraction, there are therapy options out there to help those with dementia cope.  

Music Therapy

Music therapy is a great way to improve a dementia patient’s mental and physical health. From playing an instrument to listening to music and dancing to it, all of this has benefits to dementia suffering patients. Other benefits of music therapy include boosting brain activity, improving cognitive abilities, increasing positive moods, evoking emotions, recalling memories and engaging socially with others. Music can also help relax dementia patients. For example, lullabies are soothing for bedtime and sedative music can help calm agitation that often occurs due to the frustration of dementia.  

Art Therapy

Art therapy is another effective way for dementia patients to communicate. Patients are able to creatively express their emotions and thoughts in a calming way. This therapy also requires patients to practice their attention and concentration. Art therapy is a social activity that can also improve one’s mood and promote positivity. It helps to encourage those with dementia to draw, paint or even just color a picture.  

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive exercises, such as brain games, is another form of therapy that can improve memory loss and also mitigate dementia. From crossword puzzles to regular puzzles to card games, there are many ways to use cognitive therapy to improve one’s memory and also be used as a fun distraction. 

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy uses dogs and cats as special companions to help those with dementia. With some training, therapy dogs can be a big help to those who require assistance because of dementia. Those suffering from dementia struggle with many things, mainly with memory loss and performing day to day activities, especially as dementia progresses. A full-time caretaker is often needed, and this is where a therapy dog could be another wonderful option. These animals provide love, friendship and support. They also help reduce agitation, increase physical activity and help with increasing good moods. 

All of these types of therapy can help dementia patients feel more independent and provides self-confidence. This can help with depression that often occurs in dementia patients and help reduce the feeling of loneliness. These things can improve the mood of patients and bring a positive influence to their life.

About John W. DenBoer, PhD

Dr. John DenBoer is a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in the assessment and detection of early-stage dementia. 

Dr DenBoer was inspired to become an expert in the field after his grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, robbing him of the woman who raised him.


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