02 Mar Alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s: 5 non-pharmacological options
Alzheimer’s is a cognitive disorder that results in behavioural changes and the reduced autonomy of its sufferers. Here you will find 5 non-pharmacological alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s
If someone close to you has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are complementary therapies available in addition to medication to consider.
Step one, get informed
- Let the desire to help your loved one motivate you to research and collect as much high-quality information as possible about this disease.
It is recommended to use accredited websites, such as medical associations and foundations.
- Generally, Alzheimer’s symptoms start to develop from the age of 65. Some common signs in the initial stages are:
- Changes in memory that hinder day to day life: (forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events).
- Difficulty problem solving (difficulty following a previously known recipe or managing monthly accounts).
- Disorientation as to time and place (losing track of seasons and the passage of time, sometimes they don´t remember where they are or how they got there).
- Difficulty judging distances and determining color or contrast (visual problems not caused by normal aging).
- Problems following or participating in a conversation (not remembering what they were talking about, repeating the same thing multiple times, being unable to find the word they want to say).
- Poor or lack of judgement (poor decision making, starting to neglect personal hygiene).
- Lack of motivation to participate in activities (work-related or social)
- Mood swings (they may seem confused, suspicious, depressed, scared, anxious and they may be annoyed easily).
How to help
- Seek medical assistance
- Stay active (physically and mentally)
- Seek additional Information and support
Remember that many of these symptoms come with age, however when they become more frequent this can be a warning sign.
As well as getting informed, looking for guidance is also important for this process, and support groups are available that can bring comfort during difficult times.
5 non-pharmacological alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s
Although a cure for this disease has yet to be found, the use of medication accompanied with non-pharmacological, complementary treatments, can temporarily delay the onset of symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
This therapy consists of techniques that aim to optimize and improve patients’ cognitive function and thought process through exercises, practices and specific activities.
Cognitive stimulation is most effective during the initial stages of the disease:
- Carrying out simple tasks that stimulate mental activity.
- Working on orientation to time, space and person to help the patient locate themselves at any given moment and know
- where they are and who they are with.
- Exercises to stimulate memory (repetition games, remembering past memories).
- Calculation exercises to reinforce their memory.
- Using basic reasoning.
- Reading and writing (reading, dictations, journaling, etc.)
Implementing physical exercises and activities to delay motor deterioration however possible, in order to conserve as much of the patient’s autonomy as possible.
Some examples of physical therapies are:
- Walking up/down the stairs.
- Also walking up/down a ramp.
- Similarly, walking in parallel and where possible, with obstacles.
- Stationary bike.
- Circuits with pilates rings, obstacles, etc.
- Ball games.
- Weighted exercises.
- Working with hands (small balls, tying rope, buttoning/ unbuttoning, zippers, etc.).
- Recognizing objects and their function (switches, door handles, etc.).
- Sensory stimulation with objects with different textures, colors, temperatures, etc.
The techniques employed in music therapy sessions include background or individual listening, therapeutic singing, or even learning to play a musical instrument. This therapy helps reduce periods of agitation in the patient.
Listening to music gives them a sense of security and identity, whilst also helping them remember. Below are some recommendations:
- The best results have been obtained using live music.
- Recorded music has the advantage of allowing a song to be repeated whenever and as many times as the patient wants.
- Patient participation in music is much more interactive (singing, singing in a group or playing an instrument)
- Always observe how the patient reacts to the music and stop immediately if it seems to provoke a negative effect.
- Use music that the patient used to like before or popular music from when they were young.
- Do not use dissonant, frenetic or high-volume music.
A companion animal that can bring many benefits to a patient with Alzheimer’s, such as improving their mental health, their capacity for relationships and the perception of their own health, preferably undertaken in the initial stages of the disease.
These are a few of the characteristics of this type of therapy:
- Can be any domestic animal, however the use of trained emotional support dogs is advised.
- All contact must be supervised.
- Motivates the patient to be the caregiver of an animal for a day, putting them in charge of feeding it, talking to it and taking it out for walks.
Therapy using medicinal cannabis
Other recent studies have shown the effectiveness of using cannabidiol (CBD), a medical component of cannabis, in controlling some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
It is a natural, alternative treatment that has been used on patients in the initial stages of the disease. These are some of the benefits:
- Stimulates neurogenesis, the production of new cells.
- Reduces confusion and agitation that may sometimes occur in patients.
- Boosts mood and improves sleep quality.
- Stimulates appetite.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of cannabidiol and cannabidiol products, visit our website.
It is important to consult with your doctor regarding any complementary treatments you wish to try, to align all efforts towards the improvement of your loved one.
The idea is to create an integrated treatment that incorporates various aspects of the patient’s life.
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