Sometimes the best way to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s is to reach past the mind. That is why doctors and caregivers recommend trying non-medical therapies such as adding music, art, pets, and a variety of other non-medical therapies to more traditional Alzheimer’s treatments. Oftentimes, these activities can help the person get past the anxiety, stress, and depression that is often associated with Alzheimer’s. The following are several non-medical therapies that can be added to traditional treatment.
Music therapy: For Alzheimer’s patients, listening to music can help them to reminisce about past memories in a non-stressful way. Music can also alter a person’s mood bringing them up when they need it and relaxing them when it is necessary.
Go for familiar music: Playing music from the person’s younger years, specifically from ages 18-25 years, would prompt the strongest responses. However, make sure to look out for any agitation due to a stressful memory.
Try new music: New music can affect a person’s mood more since it has no memories tied to it. This way, you won’t have to worry about triggering a sad or happy memory.
Pay attention to tempo: Music with percussive sounds and quick tempos can encourage Alzheimer’s patients to get dressed, move, eat, or bathe because of the faster movement in the music. Slower temp music is good for calming purposes, and can be used to help your loved one relax before bedtime or calm down after being agitated.
Skip commercials: Try sticking to CDs or tapes since commercials can overstimulate the patient with Alzheimer’s.
Pet therapy: This therapy has been known to reduce symptoms among Alzheimer’s patients and increase self-esteem. First make sure the person would be comfortable around an animal, then make sure to match the type of animal to the person’s personality. A more energetic, mobile patient would be better with a more energetic dog; whereas a lower mobility patient might be better with a smaller dog or cat.
Art therapy: Art can help patients express emotions they might not be able to convey. Be sure the projects are adult level and be ready to help out if needed.
Religious activities: These can give an Alzheimer’s patient a sense of peace and connection with the world.
Aromatherapy: Using oil-based scents can bring back memories and help a patient feel connected with nature.
Storytelling and scrapbooking: This can give an Alzheimer’s patient a lift. Ask them stories behind photos and encourage them to tell you stories.