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Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia

psychological therapies for dementia

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Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia help provide relief and some sense of control in those living with dementia. Find out what therapies are available and how they can help in your treatment plan when living with dementia. 

What is Dementia?

What is Dementia

Dementia is a term used to describe the mental decline of individuals who have symptoms that affect or interfere with their day-to-day lives. Dementia is not a disease. It is a term used to describe a group of symptoms caused by other conditions that affect your thinking, memory, reasoning, personality, mood, and behavior. 

Many diseases can cause dementia symptoms. The most common one is Alzheimer’s Disease. Others include Vascular dementia disease, Lewy Body Dementia Disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Dementia is a progressive disease that gets worse over time. Getting care early can help you learn to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

How is Dementia Diagnosed?

Dementia is diagnosed through a series of evaluations and tests that are given by your healthcare provider. These tests include health questions, diagnostic testing, review of symptoms, CT Scans, cognitive tests, and lab tests. 

Once you have been diagnosed with dementia, you and your doctor will create a treatment plan to help manage your dementia symptoms. 

Dementia Treatment

While there is no cure for dementia, various activities and methods could be adopted to minimize or treat dementia symptoms.  

Treatment options include:

  • Medications
  • Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia
  • Lifestyle changes

Taking advantage of Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia can be a great benefit to those who are living with dementia as well as their family members. 

What Is The Purpose Of Counseling?

When it comes to those who are living with dementia, there are six purposes of counseling those living with dementia, family members and caregivers

  • The first purpose is to help support the individual who is facing the diagnosis, in this case, the diagnosis of dementia. 
  • Counseling also helps caregivers & family members understand dementia more and what to expect when living with dementia. 
  • Counseling helps you talk through and understand issues that others may not understand. 
  • Counselors provide kindness, respect, and the attention you deserve while going through this challenging time. 
  • Counseling helps you focus on your strengths rather than focusing on what you cannot do. 
  • Counseling helps provide coping techniques and strategies needed.  

Do Dementia Patients Suffer From Depression?

Up to 40% of those living with dementia also suffer from depression. It is important to get treatment for those who are suffering from depression. 

Without the proper treatment, it can compound cognitive impairments even more. 

For those living with dementia and suffering from depression, antidepressant medication is available. Along with medication, psychological and psychosocial therapies for dementia are also available.

Mental Health Specialists That Are Available

Mental Health Specialists That Are Available (1)

To better help those living with dementia, it is important to form the right team to help your loved one’s psychological impairments caused by dementia. These specialists may be able to help:

#1. Psychotherapists

For those who are newly diagnosed with dementia, psychotherapy can help with feelings of anger and anxiety that may be prevailing. The therapist will work with those individuals with dementia to understand and validate their feelings. They may prescribe medication when needed.

In middle-stage dementia as well as late-stage dementia, psychotherapists may help with emotion-oriented psychotherapy. This allows your loved one who is living with dementia to focus on happy thoughts and memories that they have. Studies show that doing this can help patients not suffer from depression and improve their overall outlook on life.

The psychotherapist may also recommend stimulating activities for those who are living with dementia. 

#2. Social Workers

Social workers are also trained to help those who are living with dementia. They are trained to help those who are living with dementia as well as the caretakers. 

#3. Geriatric Psychotherapists

Geriatric psychotherapists can be a huge help. These healthcare providers specialize in the mental health of the elderly. They usually have the training to help those with cognitive declines, including dementia. 

Is Psychological Therapy Available for Caregivers?

Many psychotherapists who work with those living with dementia also include the caregiver in the therapies. The psychotherapists will look at the level of burnout the caregiver is feeling and involve them in therapeutic exercises to help those living with dementia. Not only does this therapy help the individual, but it also helps educate the caregiver at the same time. 

It is common for psychotherapists to help the caregiver recognize problems and help them learn to address them. This can be through agitation, depression, or overstimulation. The psychotherapists teach the caregiver how to identify these problems, which will elevate extra stress and potentially save your loved one. 

How To Find A Therapist For Those Living With Dementia?

Finding a therapist may take some time before you find one that you or your loved one is comfortable with. These steps to finding a therapist may help you find the right one quickly so that you can get started with your therapy to help with dementia. 

  1. The first step is to rule out any medical condition that may be causing your problem. This will be done with your healthcare provider. 
  2. Call your insurance to find out what the mental health coverage is on your medical plan/ 
  3. Get referrals from friends, family, leaders of your faith, and others that you trust. You want to ensure that these healthcare providers have experience with dementia-related issues. 
  4. You want to try and see a therapist with an office that is easy for you to get to. Call the offices you are interested in going to and ask questions. Find out when an appointment is available, the cost if they take your insurance, and where they are located. 
  5. Talk with the receptionist when you call and see if the therapist has experience working with those who are living with dementia. Ask their expertise, training, and the number of years they have been practicing. Don’t discredit those right out of school because they may have new ideas to help you. 
  6. At your first visit, talk with the therapist about your concerns. Explain your thoughts and feelings. Be sure to be open and honest with your therapist so that they can help you. Find out:
    • What treatment does the therapist recommend?
    • Discuss how effective the treatment has worked in cases similar to yours.
    • What are the benefits of the therapy recommended? Discuss any side effects that may be present with the recommended treatment.
    • Discuss how often therapy is needed and if this will be long-term therapy or how many sessions the therapist feels are required.
    • While working with your therapist, make sure you feel like the treatment plan is something you can do and is catered to you.
  7. When it comes to the therapist, rapport is essential. Consider the following:
    • Did you feel comfortable with the therapist?
    • Did the therapist listen to you?
    • Did you feel heard and validated?
    • Did the therapist understand your concerns and address them?
    • Do you trust your therapist?
    • Did your therapist seem knowledgeable about the problems you discussed? Does the treatment plan seem to address these concerns?

If the answers to these questions and concerns are a yes, schedule another appointment with your therapist. If you do not, then call another therapist and make an appointment. Continue to do this until you find the one that best fits your needs. 

What are the Benefits of Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia?

Benefits of Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia

There are so many benefits of Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia patients. These include:

  • Understanding and acknowledgment of Dementia.
  • Helps accept the new diagnoses
  • It helps improve self-esteem and mood as you work through different feelings.
  • Help manage daily challenges and symptoms.
  • Helps with better self-care skills
  • It helps those living with dementia adapt to changes in abilities as well as lifestyle changes.
  • It helps educate about dementia which includes research, medications, and available programs.
  • Decreases loneliness and isolation
  • It helps make connections and builds a support system with dementia services before crisis situations.
  • It helps live life to your fullest even when you are living with dementia.

Benefits to Family 

If those who are living with dementia decide to involve their family in therapy, there are many benefits. These include:

  • Emotional support
  • It helps problem-solve and make a safe environment for your loved one who is living with dementia. 
  • Therapy discusses important planning matters such as legal, financial, and health planning. 

Who is a candidate for Psychological Therapy?

Those who are living with dementia need to be able to:

  • Consent to therapy. 
  • Be able to communicate choices. 
  • Understand information that is discussed.

Psychological Therapies for Dementia

Unlike medication, Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia are used to help alleviate symptoms and provide a little bit of control for those living with dementia as well as their family. 

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

Cognitive stimulation therapy is typically used with mild to moderate dementia symptoms. Cognitive stimulation therapy is generally done through group activities and exercises to help improve memory, problem-solving skills, and language.  

Cognitive stimulation therapy is 14 sessions that are 45 minutes each. These run over seven weeks. Each session covers a different topic. These groups cover all different types of topics to help stimulate thinking in their memory and connect with others. 

The group may:

  • Discuss current events
  • Listen To music or sing together
  • Play word games. 
  • Do practical life skills activities such as baking or cooking that require measuring and following directions.

These activity sessions are for those who have mild to moderate dementia. They help individuals who are living with dementia relax, have fun, and socialize with others. 

Why Is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy So Important?

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy helps stimulate the mind. Working together in a group session offers chances for individuals who are living with dementia to share experiences and talk with others who are going through similar experiences in a very relaxed and supportive environment. These group sessions also help build confidence and self-esteem with those who are living with dementia.  

Behavioral Therapy for Dementia

Behavioral therapists specializing in dementia work with patients to help identify and understand the source of their behavior. Once the source is found, then alternative strategies are suggested and implemented. 

A great example of this is a dementia patient may like to wander. While the caretaker may not understand why working with a behavioral therapist can help get to the root of the problems. In this case, it may be because your loved one living with dementia is restless, which causes them to wander. The behavioral therapist then suggests suitable physical activities that help with restlessness, preventing wandering. 

If you think you are living with dementia, it is essential to get treatment early. With an early diagnosis, you will see many benefits. These include:

  • Being able to be actively involved in healthcare decisions and personal decisions. 
  • Get more effective treatment. 
  • Take advantage of Psychological and Psychosocial Therapies for Dementia when needed. 
  • Make choices for your future, including legal, financial, and healthcare matters. 
  • Use and understand resources that are available to you to understand dementia fully. 
  • Give you and your family time to understand the challenges ahead of you.

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