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Sensory-Based Therapies for Individuals with Alzheimer's - What Does the Research Say?

in-home care for alzheimers

Over the past several decades, our understanding of Alzheimer’s has advanced significantly. Though a cure is not yet available, this deeper understanding has led to a wide variety of more effective treatments. For those looking to supplement or minimize medication usage, sensory-based therapies seem particularly promising. How does sensory therapy work, and does medical research support the concept?

How Do Sensory-Based Therapies Work?

The basic principle behind sensory therapy is a verified fact: all sensory stimulation is processed in the brain. It doesn’t matter whether the stimulation originates from our sense of sight, smell, touch, taste or hearing; the neural pathways in our brain will be activated. Sensory-based therapies take advantage of this stimulation in an attempt to exercise the brain and keep it functioning at a normal level.

Based on this principle, many types of sensory therapies have been developed and tested. Some of the most successful and promising therapies are below.

  • Music. Music therapy is one of the most well-researched sensory-based interventions. If you’ve ever heard a song and had it remind you of a day years ago, you can understand why this therapy is helpful. Experts within the Alzheimer’s Association agree that music can spark positive reactions even in late-stage disease. Familiar songs are most effective, so pick something that is well known to your loved one.
  • Crafts. Hands-on activities can also be very effective therapies. Not only can crafts help keep dementia patients grounded in the present, but they also help keep important motor skills from fading away.
  • Pets. The research into the effect pets have on Alzheimer’s patients is promising. Many families have found that the best results are obtained by using a familiar breed. For example, if your parent had a pet Labrador when they were a child, getting another Labrador as a companion could reactivate those pleasant memories.
  • Virtual reality. Though it’s a relatively new field, virtual reality (VR) devices are showing some exciting results among Alzheimer’s patients. VR devices allow users to immerse themselves in a different environment, meaning they could be especially helpful for those with limited mobility.
  • Practicing life skills. Participating in activities of daily living is vital to keeping neural pathways active. Depending on the stage of their disease, patients can help with cleaning, cooking or other tasks around the house.  With many basic tasks, you don’t even have to worry about whether the job is done well; simply encouraging them to use their hands will help immensely.

Are you looking for help developing a sensory-based program for someone in your care?

If you’d like help developing an activity plan for a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s, we can help. Fedelta Home Care specializes in providing the best possible care to clients throughout the Puget Sound area. Contact us today to find out how our experts can help you develop an exceptional plan of care for your loved one.

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