Dementia, a condition in which a person suffers from memory loss, impaired movement, difficulty with language, has become a very common problem in today’s age. The loss of cognitive function, due to the damaged brain cells, is medically termed as dementia. People are paying more interests in the various alternative and complementary therapies and treatments available today. The dementia patients and the caretaker of such patients are more interested in using these alternative therapies in addition to the conventional treatments. Medical research studies in the United States, where there is a growing incidence of dementia and alzheimer’s diseases, have also shown that a holistic exercise program can help in improving the quality of life for dementia patients. Incorporating a holistic approach towards life, and focussing on both body and mind in tandem with medication, can really help the patient to a great extent.
How to Go About a Holistic Alternative Treatment to Dementia?
According to medical experts, there are four main support systems for a holistic approach to dementia:
- Nutritional: We cannot ignore the foods taken by the patient. With age, the bodies require more nutritional support. It is necessary to serve the patient with nutrient-rich foods in all meals and snacks. Some important foods that may lower the risk of dementia are leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans and legumes, whole grains, berries and cherries, squash, asparagus, pumpkin, tomatoes, carrots, beet, fish, flax seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, olive oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, sage, turmeric, cumin, etc. It is also very essential to avoid consumption of caffeine, sugar, drugs, and alcohol.
- Environmental: As a caretaker, it is very essential to see what triggers a change in the behaviour of a dementia patient in an adverse way. By closely monitoring the potential triggers and eliminating them can help in creating a safe environment for living for the patient. Small changes such as getting rid of clutter, minimising noise, properly placing the furniture, creating a soothing atmosphere with proper lighting and furnishings can play a vital role in maximising safety for the patient.
- Communication: Another strong pillar of support in the holistic approach is communication. It is very essential for the caretaker to have effective communication with the patient. Speaking in a comforting manner with the patient reduces his agitation and frustration levels to a great extent.
- Social Activities: Another important holistic approach is to make use of creative methods to engage dementia patients to minimise his boredom, agitation, depression, and other adverse behaviours. Simple exercises, yoga, meditation, a game of chess or cards, listening to music, playing with kids, regular stroll in the open fresh air are few other options to engage him in a holistic manner, which in the long run promote his mental and physical well-being.
Some other therapies for an alternative treatment to dementia in a holistic manner include the following:
- Acupuncture: This is a method to restore the functioning of the brain and other cells. It has found to be beneficial for treating dementia and alzheimer’s diseases, and mental problems associated with it like as depression and insomnia.
- Aromatherapy and Massage Therapy: This therapy uses fragrant oils and herbs, and is effective in helping dementia patients to relax. In fact, certain oils like the lemon balm (melissa officinalis) and lavender oil have been found to improve cognition in people with dementia. Aromatherapy includes applying and massaging the body with fragrant oil, or oil is heated to emit a pleasant aroma all across the patient’s room.
- Music Therapy: Making the patient listen to soothing music can also be a good therapy for him.
- Pet Therapy: This therapy involves keeping a pet dog at home, playing with it, and taking it out for walks. This promotes better moods and behaviours in people with dementia.
- Bright Light Therapy: One common problem associated with dementia patients is sleep disorder, which many caretakers find very stressful. One important finding to treat this problem is the bright light therapy. In this therapy, the patient is asked to sit in front of a light box for a fixed time period every day. The light box provides light about 30 times more than the average light. This therapy has found promising effects on restlessness and disturbed sleep in dementia people. In fact, a recent study has also shown that using a stronger general lighting at the homes of the dementia patients help them to sleep better.
Steps to Reverse Dementia
Dementia cannot be treated completely, but a holistic approach can surely improve the quality of life of the patients as well as the caretakers. Here are a few things that can boost your mind and reverse dementia:
- Keep your blood sugar maintained with the intake of wholefoods and going in for a low glycemic diet.
- Exercise daily. Half an hour of walk is also helpful.
- Relax with yoga, meditation, or just do deep breathing.
- Take a multivitamin, mineral and omega 3 supplement (as per doctor’s advice).
- Take vitamin D, extra vitamin B6, B12, and folate (as per doctor’s advice).
- Treat thyroid.
Such preventive measures can go a long way in making your brain recover and heal if you have memory problems. They can help you prevent the aging of your brain, even if you are not facing any problem of cognitive decline.