Therapeutic activities are an important part of Alzheimer’s care. Activities help to engage patients, spark their interest and utilize their skills. Studies show that therapeutic recreation can produce some of the same cognitive benefits as drug therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.
How Can Therapeutic Recreation Help Someone with Alzheimer’s?
Therapeutic recreation is most effective with individuals who have mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Activity treatment is an Alzheimer’s care, management and treatment technique all in one. One of the goals of Alzheimer’s care is to ensure the patient has the highest quality of life possible. Therapeutic recreation accomplishes this by:
- Emphasizing the patient’s sense of worth
- Focusing on the individual’s interests and skills
- Prompting recent and past memories
- Providing friendships (if done in a group setting).
Therapeutic recreation is also an Alzheimer’s management technique. Studies show that individuals with Alzheimer’s who participate in engaging, structured activities are less likely to exhibit some of the more alarming behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as:
- Wandering away.
Having a routine is vital for therapeutic recreation to be effective. When an individual performs activities on a daily basis, he develops habits, expectations and a feeling of stability. Routine helps to reduce the sense of frustrated confusion that is a contributing factor to behavioral symptoms.
Recreation therapy for Alzheimer’s is also a valuable treatment option. Studies show that the cognitive benefits of therapeutic activities can be similar to those received through medication.
What are Therapeutic Activities?
Therapeutic recreation can include any number of activities, depending on the interests and skills of the individuals involved. Some of the most common activities include:
- Interacting with animals
- Music (playing, singing or listening)
- Watching videos of loved ones.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for Alzheimer’s
Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is a type of group activity therapy for Alzheimer’s. CST usually involves 14 sessions conducted over a period of seven weeks. CST is available in some hospitals, residential homes and patient day programs. CST offers a variety of therapeutic activities as well as the friendship and support of being involved in a group. Talk to your local Alzheimer’s society about cognitive stimulation therapy programs in your area.
Therapeutic recreation is not an alternative to standard Alzheimer’s treatments (like medication), but is an integral part of a holistic approach to Alzheimer’s treatment.
Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.) Activities. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_activities.asp.
Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (n.d.) Alzheimer’s therapeutic activities. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www.alzinfo.org/alzheimers-treatment-therapeutic.asp.
Spector, A. et al. (2003). Efficacy of an evidence-based cognitive stimulation therapy programme for people with dementia. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 183(3), 248-254. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/183/3/248.