Art therapy aims to improve quality of life. It offers the opportunity for expression and communication and can be particularly helpful to people who find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings verbally. Art therapy helps promote identity and can give a sense of ‘self-empowerment’ (Waller 2006) as well as promoting physical competence, sociability and calmness. Simple tasks such as choosing a colour and deciding where to put it can have meaning for individuals whose everyday choices may be becoming more limited. Consistency, stimulation and sustaining relationships can be provided through art therapy. These can all be beneficial to individuals with dementia.
Music can have a powerful effect on a person’s state of mind and music therapy uses music to restore or improve a person’s sense of well-being. It can also:
- Reduce stress
- Enhance memory
- Improve communication
- Express feelings
- Assist with physical rehabilitation
” . . . people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can respond to music when nothing else reaches them. Alzheimer’s can totally destroy the ability to remember family members or events from one’s own life—but musical memory somehow survives the ravages of the disease, and even in people with advanced dementia, music can often reawaken personal memories and associations otherwise lost.” Oliver Sacks
“Improvements of mood, behavior, even cognitive function—once set off by music can sometimes persist for hours or even days in people with dementia. Researchers are only beginning to study the secrets of why and how this happens . . .” Oliver Sacks
Our trained dementia therapists support clients to choose and listen to music that is relative to them. This can stimulate communication and expression that is not always possible.
Reminiscence and Life Stories
Life story work gives our clients the opportunity to talk about their life experiences. It provides the corner stone for our person centred care and promotes reminiscence work and active engagement with clients. Reminiscence therapy is the use of life histories to help improve well-being.
Whilst there is no cure for Dementia, reminiscence therapy and memory work have been shown to stimulate memory and can all have a positive impact on well being. In some cases this can lead to a delay in memory loss.
Memories can be stimulated using oral and written descriptions, photographs and music. Every person responds to different stimuli and our dementia support staff take time to develop relationships and understand each client.
The sense of touch can trigger memories in a way that other forms of communication cannot. The use of memory boxes are a useful way of stimulating tactile memories for people living with dementia.
Poignant smells, familiar tunes, cherished objects and heart-warming stories have the power to summon memories from deep within, even for someone experiencing memory loss. Capturing and using memories that trigger an emotional response can effectively help manage the behaviours of someone living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
Memories of “When I was young…” and photos of yesteryear help family members and friends relive special moments together. Taking a trip down memory lane often generates a warmth of familiarity and comfort—feelings particularly welcome in someone with dementia—and helps ensure that person’s contribution to the family’s history remains intact.
Promotion of meaningful activity is a fundamental tool for living with dementia at every stage. Oran’s Dementia staff work with clients to find the specific activities that tap into their past skills, memories and interests. Stimulating the senses and encouraging participation through these activities can boost self-esteem and help fulfill the fundamental emotional needs of any human being.
Activities for people with dementia are created to improve social and emotional well-being, and to help them blossom and grow. They should not be about providing meaningless tasks or activity for the sake of distraction.
As part of our package our specialist dementia carers can support our clients with dementia to be involved meaningful activities. These are created to tap into a person’s past skills, memories and interests. These do not have to always be structured but do need to stimulate the senses and encourage participation and boost self-esteem.
Activities may range from memory work, aromatherapy, story telling, gardening, cooking, , exercise, pet therapy or individually tailored activity programmes. They may involve dance, movement, colour, walking or quiet time in conversation. The true focus is not about the activity itself but the quality and joy of the interaction.