Memory Care: Innovative Therapeutic Techniques
Memory care is a unique form of residential care that caters specifically to seniors struggling with cognitive decline. Memory care homes provide specialized care, 24/7 assistance, and comfortable accommodations designed to ease anxiety and reduce issues related to severe memory loss. Memory care provides services, amenities, and care techniques that are unique in the senior care community. Staff and program director use a series of therapies and approaches that have been proven to diminish symptoms of memory loss and improve overall quality of life.
The validation method is a communication technique that attendants use to relate better with seniors suffering from dementia. Attendants focus on acknowledging the senior’s wants and needs, without focusing on accuracy of memory, while steering the conversation in a more productive direction.
For example, an attendant arrives to take the senior to dinner but they are refusing to leave until their loved one arrives—someone who is not available. Caregivers may be tempted to argue with them or remind them of the truth. Validation therapy focuses on the feelings instead of facts.
- Woman: I’m not ready to eat yet. I’m waiting for my husband.
- Caregiver: I know you would like to wait for him but he is unable to make it tonight. I would love for you to join me for dinner tonight. Maybe you tell me a little more about him, it sounds like you two are very happy.
The key to this strategy lies in acknowledging what matters to them while steering the conversation to something else. Seniors in later stages of dementia may not always respond to this method; however, caretakers that use this method consistently and correctly often see positive results.
Snoezelen Multisensory Therapy
Snoezelen therapy is a unique approach that uses sensory stimulation to help treat symptoms of dementia and brain injury. This style of therapy works by creating a specific room filled with gentle light, soothing sound, relaxing smells, and comforting touch. Memory care residents can take peaceful moments to heal and stimulate the mind.
Assisted living communities and other residential care facilities can choose from aroma objects, foam ball pits, bubble tubes, unique carpeting, controllers, fiber optics, mirrors, projectors, UV products, and unique seating to create the ideal atmosphere for their residents. These rooms have shown to decrease agitation, increase social function, and promote well-being in dementia patients. Multisensory therapy also helps reduce social withdrawal, improve adaptive behaviors and enhance the relationship between caregivers and residents.
Occupational therapy is utilized to teach seniors how to handle basic daily activities like bathing, dressing, or cleaning. The therapists guide seniors though the steps needed to complete these tasks on a regular basis. Therapy ensures seniors don’t completely forget how to live or care for themselves regardless of any supportive care. Although seniors rarely regain ADL skills, seniors often feel more confident, capable, and cooperative.
Music therapy uses music to stimulate the brain and promote emotional well-being. Traditional therapies commonly engage only one side of brain. Music not only engages the other side of the brain, music therapy uses techniques that enhance communication between both sides. Music therapists work to establish a relationship between music, thought, and physical activity in order to trigger memory and encourage social interaction. Seniors in music therapy listen to music and share experiences which ultimately improves their mood and life satisfaction.
Reminiscence therapy uses personal history about the senior’s past to help protect and re-trigger memories. There are practically countless strategies that can be used. Therapists often combine creative techniques with personal preferences to personalize their approach. Seniors listen to their favorite songs, watch home videos, enjoy favorite meals, and much more. Family members often attend therapy sessions to support seniors and ensure effectiveness.
Additional Memory Care Techniques
Memory care facilities use a plethora of additional techniques to promote improvement in memory and overall functioning. However, memory care is much more expansive than this. The memory care techniques shared in this piece represent just a few of many more methods utilized by trained professionals.
- Color-coded hallways to make navigation easier
- Circular hallways to help with wandering or feeling lost
- Natural, soft lighting to reduce agitation
- Buddy and intercom systems for safety and security
- Assigned caretakers for personalized care and minimal remembering for seniors
- Memory boxes or walls to trigger and maintain memory
Ultimately, memory care is an all-in-one package that includes everything. Although it’s a tough decision, this is why it’s usually recommended that patients with dementia move into specialized care. Memory care provides the comprehensive care and support they need to make a more successful recovery.
About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.