Dementia is a broad term for a number of different conditions that cause cognitive impairment and difficulty with carrying out daily tasks. One of the most common causes of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
At the moment there is no cure for dementia, only treatments that can slow the progress of the disease and make life more comfortable and safe for the patient.
Many senior care facilities advocate for a “holistic” approach to treating dementia. What exactly does this mean? And why is it so important?
What is holistic care?
Holistic care is an approach that means not just treating one symptom, but rather treating the whole person. This means treating their mind, body, and spirit.
A holistic approach doesn’t mean that more traditional treatments aren’t used. On the contrary, a holistic approach will usually combine traditional treatments such as medication or surgery with another treatment that addresses the person’s mind and helps them to maintain a sense of wellbeing. For example, someone with cancer might combine chemotherapy with acupuncture.
Healthcare experts agree that a positive mindset is crucial to recovery from any illness. This is not to say that you have to be happy about being ill! This would actually cause an increased mental burden. However, if you can maintain a level of happiness and wellbeing this can mean better health outcomes.
What is holistic care for dementia?
A good example of a specialist memory care provider who takes a holistic approach is Sugar Land senior living in Texas. The caregivers at Sugar Land strive to make each resident feel at home, and as though they are part of a family. There is a strong program of social activities, which mean that their residents feel as though they are part of a community, and they are able to feel connected to other people. It’s been proven that a strong sense of social connection can lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s and it can even mitigate the early effects of cognitive impairment in some people. They also emphasize exercise, with daily classes such as yoga, light aerobic activity, and weight lifting being available. This is important because exercise helps to improve blood flow, and keep both body and mind functioning at their best.
Probably the most important reason to take a holistic approach to dementia care is that it makes the patient happy! A huge part of holistic dementia care is helping patients to maintain a sense of independence. For example, if a person is still able to wash the dishes, then a holistic approach would allow them to do this. This feeling of contribution and of being useful is important for wellbeing, which helps patients to feel happier overall.
A feeling of happiness is likely to improve health outcomes. And whether or not the holistic approach makes a difference to the outcome for the patient, this promotion of happiness is key to ensuring that dementia patients can still feel happy and content in their lives.