Alternative therapies for individuals with Dementia

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Dementia is a chronic insidious disease that destroys the individual's cognitive, emotional and mental abilities. Ultimately, the individual is unable to appropriately verbalize basic wants and needs; therefore, behavioral symptoms become the way of communicating. Behavioral symptoms vary greatly from passivity to hostility and aggression. Unfortunately, due to the difficult task of caring for these individuals many families must place their loved ones in a long-term care facility for direct supervision. Long-term care facilities often use chemical restraints in order to treat the behavioral problems. Thus, with the use of pharmacologic restraints quality of care is diminished. This professional paper will discuss three alternative therapies that, through research studies, have been found to provide optimal quality of care for the individual with dementia. The three therapies that will be examined are Music Therapy, Snoezelen Therapy and Validation Therapy. These alternative therapies will be taught to staff in two nursing homes and one assisted living facility in a western community in Montana. The use of educational brochures and a multi sensory table will be used for the three in-services. There will be a telephone follow-up six months after the in-service to determine if any of the alternative therapies were used. The telephone follow-up revealed that there was a high degree of turnover with staff as well as administration. The results of the study established the need for ongoing in-services for alternative therapies due to the high turnover rate.




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