Psychological Science: How a Different Approach Can Reduce Dementia Symptoms

Determining the most effective way to care for a loved one who has dementia takes a large amount of research and professional consultation. Habilitation therapy offers a positive approach to helping seniors with dementia.

Dementia presents certain challenges that caregivers have to learn to manage, such as memory problems, reduced abilities, and frequent and sometimes severe mood changes. Some forms of treatment focus on managing negative aspects of cognitive decline, including the loss of certain skills or abilities. These treatment methods focus on helping patients come to terms with what they have lost, which can affect their emotional health and well-being. Habilitation therapy in dementia care differs in that it focuses on the skills and abilities that seniors still have while also making sure that they feel fully loved and appreciated.

Habilitation Therapy in Dementia Care

Methods of habilitation therapy, which have been used in dementia care since the 1990s, take a positive approach to treatment and support. This option was designed to focus more on a patient’s strengths instead of their limitations. Unlike rehabilitation, this type of therapy does not try to help patients regain skills or abilities that have been limited or lost. Instead, it emphasizes the things they can still do, which helps boost self-confidence and improve emotional well-being. You can easily learn how to implement the techniques used in habilitation therapy when caring for your loved one, which can help ease any stress you might be experiencing as a caregiver.

Benefits of Habilitation Therapy

Making the decision to chose habilitation for your elderly loved one helps you as a caregiver improve their emotional well-being through positive interactions and activities. As dementia progresses, patients begin to experience declines in areas such as communication and memory. Habilitation therapy might help slow this progression by keeping them in better moods and giving them more opportunities to stay cognitively active. This approach offers a wide range of benefits for those with dementia, including the following:

  • Communication. Patients learn to communicate effectively both verbally and nonverbally. You can work to communicate with your loved one using body language and words to express thoughts and feelings.
  • Behavior. Patients who have trouble speaking clearly can also communicate through their behavior. Habilitation therapy helps these patients learn to behave in a way that expresses themselves more productively, while caregivers keep track of their behavior in order to address any problems that may occur.
  • Socialization. Patients with dementia typically fare better when they have meaningful activities and experiences on a regular basis. These help keep their minds sharp, even as their condition progresses. Habilitation therapy shows you how to give your loved one a sense of purpose through socialization and personal interactions. This helps ensure that your loved one feels needed and loved instead of feeling like a misunderstood burden. Keeping positive and supportive relationships with your loved one is critically important.
  • Physical environment. Your loved one can and should learn how to appreciate and interact within their environment to remain peaceful and happy. Massage therapy, music therapy, and art therapy are all methods used in habilitative therapy to encourage positive experiences.
  • Personal care. Habilitation therapy focuses on viewing the patient with dementia as a unique and whole individual rather than a person with progressively worsening personal care skills or abilities. A habilitative approach to personal care helps your loved one feel appreciated and more in control of their condition.

If you would like more information on habilitation therapy in dementia care, please contact Integrity, Inc. at 501-406-0442. We offer services in Arkansas for patients with dementia that incorporate the principles of habilitation therapy at home and in our treatment facilities.

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