Is This Medicine Benefitting You or Me? Non-Pharmacological Options to Care for Those with Dementia

Updated: Aug 30


For those persons experiencing dementia, Alzheimer's, or any cognitive impairment, there is currently no pharmacologic treatment available to “cure” the disease or even significantly slow the progression of memory and functional deficits.


There are currently six FDA prescription drugs approved for use in symptom-improvement, but the outcomes differ dramatically by individual and all have been shown to have limited benefit over the long term. The most common pharmacologic intervention or medication is the cholinesterase inhibitor, but there is little evidence to support its efficacy.


Management of symptoms without medications otherwise known as non-pharmacologic interventions are beginning to emerge as an alternative strategy for not only addressing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, but to enhance the quality of life for the person with dementia, Caregivers, and loved ones.


Reminiscence Therapy, Validation Therapy, Reality Orientation, and Cognitive Stimulation Therapy are non-pharmacological treatment options with little to no side effects. These treatments attempt to boost cognition, mood, and other behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.


Reminiscence Therapy attempts to bring forth recall of past events, activities, and memories using physical objects such as photos or familiar items from the past like old home videos, movies, or music. Long term memories are much more easily accessible to individuals with dementia. Evidence shows that Reminiscence Therapy improves the mood of individuals with dementia but has mixed results in relation to definite cognitive benefit.


Validation Therapy is focused on validating the person and their emotions. The way a Caregiver or family member responds to their emotions can make a huge difference in their behavior. To use Validation Therapy, you must help the individual resolve past issues through listening, showing empathy, and respecting them. This might look like rephrasing a situation around past events if the individual is wrong or suffering from hallucinations. This method won’t cure the disease, but it will help with their symptoms and offer them a better quality of life.


Reality Orientation aims to decrease confusion and behavioral symptoms by helping individuals engage and connect with their surroundings. The environment is frequently emphasized in order to orient the individual in the present using dates, locations, and current surroundings. Activities like games, puzzles, calendars, and reality orientation boards can be utilized to present personal and current information to someone who has dementia.


Finally, Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, based on the previously mentioned forms of therapy, is delivered in a social setting in small groups and involves cognitive based tasks and activities like word games and puzzles. CST aims to stimulate and engage people with dementia while providing an optimal learning environment with the social benefits of a group.


As a Home Care Provider in Lincoln, Nebraska, Home Care Partners is here to help you navigate options, create safe environments, and coordinate with healthcare partners creating daily peace of mind. We offer Memory Care Support to provide peace of mind knowing your loved one is not alone. Memory Care Support provides personal and companion care to keep your loved one comfortable in their own home.


Don’t wait to discuss the needs of your loved one with your family!

For more information or to start service, please visit the Contact Us Page

or call us at 402-780-1211.



Sources: Missouri Medicine, Saint Louis University





17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All