By the year 1976, Alzheimer’s disease was officially declared as the most common cause of dementia. And, recent estimates from the Alzheimer’s Association state that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease could potentially triple from more than 5 million to as high as 16 million by the year 2050.
As many as 90 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are challenged by some form of distress due to their condition. This distress is often combined with other behavioral changes, like depression, irritability, agitation, anxiety and more, which can lead to stressful situations for loved ones and caregivers. However, it’s been discovered recently that new, unconventional and innovative products can help soothe some of these symptoms.
Getting Inventive with Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment
While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, we’re learning more each day about alternative treatments and therapies. Medications for other conditions like diabetes and arthritis have been shown to slow the progression of the disease, while natural remedies like Vitamin E and/or antioxidants which can improve overall brain function. However, for those in the middle-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s, certain memory care products can help ease some of the distress the individual may be experiencing.
These alternative, inventive therapies include utilizing products such as:
Creating a reminiscent kit for individuals with Alzheimer’s can help them recall memories and events from their past. This in turn may prompt communication and engagement with caregivers or loved ones. These kits can be as simple or as complex as you like; it can be a shoebox filled with photos, favorite keepsakes, old letters, artwork from grandchildren, etc. Or, it can even be something like a tote bag filled with knitting supplies, past projects or memories from activities they once enjoyed, like ticket stubs to baseball games or brochures to places they’ve visited.
Robotic Animals or Dolls
Another innovative way to soothe those with Alzheimer’s is to provide something soft and comforting to touch, such as a robotic dog or cat. Stroking a pet, after all, has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as reduce anxiety and agitation. Robotic animals may also increase feelings of purpose and well-being in individuals with Alzheimer’s. Lifelike dolls, on the other hand, have been shown to conjure memories of early parenthood, while allowing the individuals to feel useful and needed.
Completing activities of daily living, like bathing and dressing oneself, can become challenging for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Zippers and buttons are difficult to manage. This is why some innovative clothing designers are making simple modifications to clothes for the elderly that can help promote their feelings of independence. For instance, adding Velcro or magnetic closures in place of buttons, zippers and laces.
Signage or Personalized Doors
Some memory care communities are utilizing unique door signage so residents are able to easily distinguish their apartment from others. Using photos, bright colors or artwork with the resident’s name highly visible helps maintain a higher level of independence and confidence in navigating through the community. One Dutch company has gone as far as offering custom recreations of the residents’ doors from their previous homes to provide a more comfortable living environment.
Memory and Shadow Boxes
Memory boxes allow residents to place items from their past in a shadow box outside their door. These boxes can bring back joyful memories from the resident’s past, and also allow the caregiver to know a little more about who they are and what they enjoy. The memory boxes not only stimulate reminiscent conversation, but enhance room recognition. They are perfect for promoting feelings of familiarly for those living with Alzheimer’s.
American Senior Communities offers a person-centered, wellness-based model of dementia care within our Auguste’s Cottage program and our assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.