- Page 1: Introduction
Reminiscence and Sensory Stimulation
Tapping into long-term memories and fond interests is crucial. Reminiscence techniques use personal prompts like photographs, music, discussions of past experiences, and meaningful activities to reconnect the person to their sense of joy, purpose and identity. Sensory stimulation incorporates customized sights, sounds, scents, textures and objects that elicit positive memories and cognitive activation based on the individual's history and preferences. Multisensory experiences boost engagement.
Building routines around lifelong habits, hobbies, and pleasurable pastimes creates meaningful engagement and activity. Simple physical, social, cognitive, and spiritual activities suited to preserved capabilities provide joy and variety. Adapting treasured activities to changing ability promotes success. One-on-one and group activities reduce isolation. Creative engagement preserves personhood.
Optimizing Cognition and Caregiver Well being
Reducing unnecessary sedative medications optimizes alertness, participation, and cognition--allowing for more positive impacts from stimulation. Non-pharmacologic alternatives should be prioritized. Caregiver health management, self-care, respite, and social support are all crucial to avoid burnout. Care giving is emotionally and physically taxing, so nurturing oneself and accepting help enables caring for others long-term.
Supportive Home Environment
Familiar objects, photographs, music, furniture arrangements, memorabilia,Technology can also assist - monitors to reduce risks, registration devices if wandering, medication reminders and dispensing tools, and apps to give caregivers peace of mind. Maintaining capabilities in a safe setting is key.
Healthcare Navigation & End-of-Life Comfort
Guiding families to advocate in the healthcare system as needs progress ensures person-centered care. Addressing legal needs, articulating wishes earlier, and navigating resources maintains dignity. If dementia becomes severe, palliative approaches focus on comfort. Hospice care, pain management, respect for patient/family wishes, and holistic support become central.
Nutrition, Hydration & Activities
Addressing dietary needs and making mealtimes an enjoyable social experience is important even when eating independence declines. Adapting textures, providing assistance, incorporating favourite foods, and the company of others can make meals pleasant. Activities should provide physical, mental, social, and spiritual engagement suited to abilities.
Training, Local Resources, Practice
No caregiver is alone - training others, including multi-generational caregivers provides sustainability. Local care resources, support groups, and adult day programs supplement care. Role playing and case studies allow practising key techniques. Take-home resources, Q&A, and evaluations help ensure comprehension. Person-centered philosophy should be central.
Studies show that cognitive and social stimulation can make a meaningful difference in improving mood, physical mobility, and cognitive functioning in those with dementia, even if just temporarily. Tapping into long-term memories and interests seems to revive the spirit of individuals. Personalized music playlists, reminiscing through conversations and photos about past experiences, shared laughter and humour, and expanding discussions centred around the person's unique likes and dislikes can profoundly enhance engagement and positivity.
We must view those with dementia first and foremost as whole people with rich histories, not just a disease. Small acts of social connection and joy that honour a person's individuality can unlock untapped potential and positively impact quality of life. As medical professionals, we have an opportunity to incorporate this person-centered care philosophy into our practice.
I recently had the privilege of assisting an elderly woman with advancing dementia. By taking time to uncover her lifelong interests and establish personal connections, I witnessed remarkable results. Things like playing music from her era, looking through cherished photo albums together while she reminisced, telling funny stories that made her laugh uncontrollably, and stretching our chats to exercises her recall ability all seemed to lift her spirit substantially. For days after focused engagement, she experienced notable improvements in physical mobility, alertness, and memory lasting hours at a time.
While these cognitive gains were temporary, the joy and enriched purpose she felt in those moments was tangible and meaningful. Fostering engagement honouring her unique identity appeared key to unlocking possible. This experience showed me the deep importance of seeing the person behind the disease and approaching care in a holistic, humanistic manner centred on preserving dignity. Small acts of compassion that bring fulfilment and spark joy can make a real difference in the quality of life for those with dementia.
We should recognize engagement and enrichment tailored to the individual as a legitimate care practice and vital source of comfort. In addition to critical medical interventions, we have an opportunity to incorporate techniques like reminiscence therapy, music, multi-sensory stimulation, and shared activities into treatment plans in a person-centered way. This philosophy of care should be fostered among caregivers, communities, and society at large to fully honour the humanity and dignity of people impacted by dementia. Collectively, we can gain so much wisdom and joy from respecting and uplifting our elders.