Our collective understanding of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive conditions evolve every year. While there is still so much left to learn, we’ve achieved a great deal in regards to enhancing the quality of life for people living with these conditions and providing quality support.
Thanks to new research into the causes and symptoms of dementia and the development of better tools to help professionals meet the needs of patients, there’s renewed energy and optimism that memory care can and will continue to improve. Take a look at the recent developments that have shaped the support available to those with dementia.
5 Developments in Dementia Research & Memory Care
1. The Importance of Holistic Memory Care
Perhaps one of the most critical changes to memory care communities is the focus on holistic care. Holistic care extends beyond just focusing on a person’s mind. It’s focused instead on the whole person – body, mind, and spirit.
This approach involves pursuing a memory support plan that addresses their specific needs and goals. That may include:
- Determining the most comfortable environment for the person to help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Considering the form of communication that’s best for the individual.
- Providing activities that allow the individual to use their abilities the best they can.
- Offering a balanced diet rich in nutrients to ensure the best health for that person’s needs.
- Providing spiritual engagement based on their specific needs at any given time.
This whole-person view enables a positive environment that encourages the best quality of life for a person no matter which stage of the disease they are in.
2. The Value of a Comfortable, Home-Like Environment
A loud, noisy, hospital-like setting can be challenging for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. They may be easily startled or frightened by the environment. In an over-stimulating situation, frustration, disorientation, and panic can set in.
One of the ways to create a better environment for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is to think small. That s, the focus of taking a person out of this constantly “on” environment and focusing on smaller spaces with more privacy. By providing studio apartments, for example, individuals are calm, more engaged with their surroundings, and more likely to thrive.
3. Use of “Yes, and” / Improv Training
Improv training is not something many people recognize. This newer type of engagement is helping many people with dementia receive the care they need in a meaningful way.
The premise behind it is that it’s based on impromptu conversation. The key phrase is, “yes, and…” The goal is to encourage continued conversation by building on whatever the other person has said prior. By saying “yes, and” you confirm what the other person has said and encourage them to continue. This improv technique is being used more readily than before in memory support.
The benefit of improv training like this is that it creates a positive conversation and builds a stronger relationship with others. It also allows them to have more control over the situation, which can be empowering! By not saying “no” outright or regularly telling them that what they are saying isn’t true, the person can maintain self-confidence.
Affirming a person’s statements and asking them conversations like this allows them to continue enjoying the world and encourages comfort.
4. Advancement of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Research
As noted, there is still a great deal about Alzheimer’s and dementia that we just do not understand yet. Research continues to improve this, one small piece of info at a time. Then, we apply what we learn to the memory support therapies and interventions provided.
One example of this is the recognition that the medication Aduhelm (aducanumab) be used in people with mild cognitive impairment and early detection. This discovery may provide some help in slowing the progression of the disease. The FDA’s approval of this drug in certain stages allows us to move forward with providing a new potential tool.
5. Renewed Emphasis on Understanding Early Dementia Intervention
One last development that is shaping the future memory care is the focus on early dementia intervention. We know now that receiving treatment and support early in a person’s diagnosis can improve quality of life and even help them access things like clinical trials for medications.
Many people with Alzheimer’s or dementia also feel relieved when they receive a diagnosis. They no longer have to wonder why they’re having the symptoms they are, and instead they can move forward and make decisions that can impact their well-being.
As a retirement community, we value the importance of advancing the care we provide with new measures and interventions. Through progressive developments like these people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can achieve more positive outcomes and friends and family can cherish every moment with their loved one.