With dementia and the initial stages: delaying deterioration, charging feelings positively

German Society for Occupational Therapy (DVE)

Karlovy Vary (OTS)

If people receive a diagnosis of “dementia” or the first cognitive deficits develop, relatives often take on tasks that the affected person can no longer manage well on their own. “It is precisely this that also promotes the process of mental decline,” advises Anne Wersing, occupational therapist at DVE (the German Society for Electrotherapy), against this common behaviour. Two studies agree: The daily practical and cognitive abilities of people with mild to moderate dementia can be kept stable for a certain period of time. Studies were conducted with participants in MAKS group therapy.

In nursing homes or nursing homes as well as in day care facilities, there are performances such as gymnastics, guessing, tests, newspaper rounds and the like to ease everyday life. Program elements for cognitive and motor activity are usually distributed throughout the entire week; Something happens over several days. What makes a difference for some people may have a negative effect on people with dementia because they forget what they did or trained in the next lesson. Or you may not be able to use it optimally. The MAKS® treatment concept, a group therapy for people with early to moderately severe dementia, takes a different approach. The basic idea: to collect all the elements, as well as to train social and everyday skills and build everything on top of each other. Everyone benefits from this approach, which resists deterioration – convenience included.

Social harmony boosts emotions in people with dementia

The two-hour programme, which must be conducted at least once a week in order to achieve the desired effect in people with onset of cognitive deficits or dementia, consists of four modules to enhance motor skills, daily practical, cognitive and social skills. The first thing to do is to find a thread that runs like a red thread through all the modules of the meeting in question. In the first meetings, the occupational therapist suggests something; With increased trust and increased communication with each other, participants develop their own ideas. In the first module, Social Harmony, the occupational therapist gives participants with dementia impulses to stimulate their emotions and memories. The biographical experiences of the participants are evoked, images and desires arise in their heads. “Any topic can be used,” says Ann Wersing, giving examples of the different areas she works on with her groups, such as “happiness,” “time,” “love” or “friendship.” “The exciting thing is for participants to start thinking and philosophizing when they get to know the topic, or they start to form and express an opinion,” says the occupational therapist. Who doubts that from people with dementia? If the group participants deal with the topic “time”, for example, then the central aspect is everyday life at home. A good opportunity to create something that brightens up the days with more satisfying encounters and purposeful activities. A very welcome side effect of the program for people with dementia: Those who have common interests or want to try new things together will find it easier to get together – making contacts function almost automatically in this increasingly familiar environment. Something that is rarely found otherwise in homes or in general among the elderly occurs. “So the topic of ‘friendship’ is not only discussed, it becomes a reality for some,” emphasizes the occupational therapist.

Beneficial for people with dementia: Promotes oxygen supply and coordination in the brain

The next unit, “Motor Skills”, continues with exercises that help operate the cardiovascular system – ideal conditions for the third unit, cognitive training. Different movement exercises lead to a better supply of oxygen to the brain of people with dementia. In this way, motor skills can be better activated and maintained, and movement security and body awareness can also be enhanced. Equally important: coordination training exercises. “I let the group do something different with the right foot than the left, move their arms in opposite directions and so on,” the occupational therapist explains, explaining how coordination skills can be trained in participants with dementia. This stimulates both cerebral hemispheres, which are better connected and it is assumed that this, along with other effects, can combat lethargy and low mood. Just like the humor with which occupational therapist Anne Wersing eases the hours. This encourages everyone to laugh at their misfortunes and at themselves. “This generation has very much internalized the need to be perfect and do your job – and this needs to be put into perspective,” emphasizes the occupational therapist. This also applies to pen holding and writing exercises. Variable streak is one of the characteristics by which dementia can be recognized early. Through the wit and playfulness typical of occupational therapists, people with dementia learn to accept their shortcomings. The occupational therapist teaches them to see sacred texts as useful. The best typeface is not the beautiful and perfect font, but the font that enables people with dementia to remain independent. With such a situation, affected people are able to look at life positively again and use their energy for the things that matter to them.

Together with the occupational therapist, implement what you have previously trained in the daily practical part

“Each unit has its purpose and prepares you for: touching feelings and memories, stimulating muscles as well as gray cells to achieve peak individual performance, in order to be able to build on the resources present in the daily working past of the unit,” the occupational therapist summarizes together on how to achieve the best possible results in activities the operation. Like the previous exercises, these are based on today’s topic. Using the example of the common “bee” topic, which arose in the wake of the death of bees, the occupational therapist explains why the daily work part in particular is a highlight for everyone, including the occupational therapists themselves. For example, participants produce seed pods from mud, clay, and flower seeds and then distribute them while walking in the area. People with dementia exercise their large and fine motor skills, their social and cognitive skills are addressed, they move, and ultimately they experience themselves as worthwhile and competent.

Informational materials on the diverse topics of occupational therapy are available from on-site occupational therapists; Occupational therapists near your place of residence on the association’s homepage at https://dve.info/service/therapeutensuche

More about MAKS® group therapy: https://www.maks-therapie.de/

Media contact:

Angelika Reinecke, German Occupational Therapy Association (DVE),

Original content from: Deutscher Verband Ergotherapie eV (DVE), transmitted by aktuell news

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