Dementia: Non-drug Therapy

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Dementia: Non-drug Therapy
Dementia: Non-drug Therapy
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Dementia: non-drug therapy

Non-drug therapy approaches for dementia aim to improve the patient's well-being and the ability to adapt to the decline in performance. They relate both to the sick person himself and to the environment and concentrate on maintaining existing skills and abilities and, if necessary, strengthening them.


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  • Attention and activation
  • Get skills
  • Individual program of measures
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

Attention and activation

Dementia patients are confronted with an increasing loss of their skills. The perception of the environment also changes - normal situations in themselves have a threatening effect on those affected, and simple connections can no longer be explained and interpreted in everyday life. In advanced stages, patients have to cope with the fact that they are dependent on care and support. As a result of dementia, abnormal behavior, fears or depression can occur that are not directly related to the degenerative disorders, but have psychological causes.

Attention, activation and employment as well as an understanding treatment of relatives and caregivers with unusual, conspicuous behavior and the attention to stressful situations are very important for those affected. Appropriate social activation during the day (e.g. training, group care in day care centers) can also improve sleep behavior.

Get skills

Non-drug therapy measures aim to maintain and strengthen the patient's existing abilities. In addition, caregivers can seek advice from experts on how to deal with suspicious behavior. This helps avoid problematic situations.

Informed relatives have an important role in treating dementia. Special support and training offers for relatives include, among other things, information about the disease, dealing with behavior, coping strategies, relief options, and involvement in treatment.

Individual program of measures

The type of treatment depends on the type of dementia, the stage of the disease, the preferences and talents of those affected and the needs of the relatives. A combination of different activities in one therapy program is also possible.

  • Training of everyday skills: The aim of the training is to support patients in coping with everyday activities independently for as long as possible. Scientific studies have shown a positive influence of the training of everyday skills on the course of the disease.
  • Physical training: Medical guidelines recommend individual physical training for patients with mild to moderate dementia in order to maintain everyday functions, flexibility and balance. Additional physiotherapy or occupational therapy can also be used.
  • Behavioral therapy: The effectiveness of behavioral therapy has only been proven in the early stages and especially in depressive disorders. At the beginning of the disease, the focus is on the person affected; in the more advanced stages, the caregivers and relatives are increasingly involved.
  • Cognitive interventions: They aim to activate mental functions - such as memory, attention, language, temporal and spatial orientation, etc. The exercises can be carried out individually or in groups, by therapists or trained relatives. Studies show a slight benefit for cognitive performance and for activities in daily living in patients with mild to moderate dementia.
  • Memory training: A positive effect of concentration exercises, brain jogging, memory games, etc. on dementia has not been scientifically proven.
  • Music therapy: Patients take part actively or passively (receptively) in making music or singing. Active music therapy has a slight effect on psychological or behavioral symptoms, while receptive music therapy can have moderate effects on aroused (agitated) and aggressive behavior. Both measures are recommended.
  • Aromatherapy: Here odorous substances are used to positively influence behavioral symptoms. The measure may have little effect on moderate to severe dementia.
  • Snoezelen: With the so-called multi-sensory stimulation (Snoezelen), the senses are stimulated by stimuli such as light, sounds, smells or taste. This has a calming and relaxing effect and can be helpful for moderate to severe dementia. A long-lasting effect has not yet been proven.

Whom can I ask?

The offers of non-drug therapies for dementia vary from region to region. Information on this is provided by the treating doctor, among others. Providers are for example:

  • Day centers of social institutions of the federal states (health websites of the federal states),
  • Dementia care facilities or therapy groups from social organizations e.g. Diakonie, Caritas, Red Cross, Volkshilfe, aid organization etc.,
  • Memory clinics or special clinics in hospitals,
  • Self-help organizations as well
  • private therapy facilities.

How are the costs going to be covered?

Social organizations, self-help organizations and social institutions in the federal states offer non-drug therapy measures and support services for people with dementia, in some cases free of charge or at subsidized tariffs (with contribution from the federal states).

The costs of certain therapeutic measures (e.g. physiotherapy) are covered by social insurance under certain conditions. For information on the respective provisions, please contact your health insurance provider, which you can find on the social security website.

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