Based on these numbers, it is likely each of us or someone we love will be impacted by this devastating disease. Although a cure or method to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s has yet to be discovered, research has pointed to a number of interventions that can help improve quality of life for individuals living with the disease.
Mental and Physical Stimulation
Providing individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia opportunities to engage in activities they enjoy is an excellent way to promote both mental and physical stimulation. Although these activities have not been shown to reverse the disease, research does indicate they may slow progression and improve behavioral symptoms for some people. Examples include arts and crafts, games, and listening to music. Caregivers can introduce activities at home, or may choose to explore adult day care centers or memory care programs, which can also provide much-needed respite time. No matter the activity or setting, it is important to remember that Alzheimer’s affects behavior and senses in addition to memory, so activities that a person once enjoyed may become overwhelming or even frustrating now.
Interviews with people living with Alzheimer's reveal that often the most frustrating and depressing aspect of the disease is the loss of independence in performing activities of daily living. These activities include the ability to bathe, dress, and cook independently, as well as the ability to express themselves clearly with spoken language. Various therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, can help individuals regain some of the skills they have lost, while facilitating home modifications and obtaining adaptive equipment to promote independent living skills. Therapy is available both in the outpatient and in-home setting, and is most often covered by insurance with a physician’s order.