What Other Therapies Help Someone With Dementia?

If your loved one has dementia, his mental ability and memory loss might be getting so bad it is affecting his daily life. Perhaps he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common type of dementia. How your loved one’s doctor treats his dementia depends on what’s causing it.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop or slow dementia. But in addition to medicines that help manage symptoms, there are different types of therapies, and even counseling, that may help your loved one with daily life.

Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist can evaluate your loved one’s strengths, weaknesses, and ability to understand where he most needs help. With the therapist, he can work on improving some of his physical skills.

The therapist can also assist in making his home safer and better adapted to his needs. For example, an occupational therapist can:

  • Organize his closet so only his clothes for the current season are available to him
  • Make sure there’s a fence around his yard, so he won’t wander down the street
  • Find easier versions of activities he used to enjoy, so he can continue doing them (such as easier puzzles, for example)

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists can help your loved one improve his balance and lower his chances of falling. The exercise can also be good for his mood.

Keep in mind that dementia might make it hard for him to tell you if he’s in pain. The physical therapist can check on that and help treat it if he is having pain.

Validation Therapy

This is a type of counseling. The therapist will pay close attention to your loved one’s feelings. She might study his voice and body language, and put less importance on what he’s actually saying. She can “validate” his feelings by saying things like, “I can see that you’re feeling angry.” Just knowing that someone understands can make him feel better.

Reality Orientation

In these sessions, your loved one and his therapist will repeat information about the time, place, and other facts together on a regular basis. It can help him stay oriented to the present moment, and hopefully make him feel less confused. Also putting things in his home like large clocks and calendars can make it easier.

It’s not for everyone. Reality orientation may not be safe to practice with a person who believes he’s in a different time or place. In that case, reality therapy could upset him.


Therapy for Depression

Depression is common in people with dementia, especially in the early and middle stages of memory loss. But their symptoms may come and go.

Talk to your doctor because some medications can cause similar symptoms. He may want to prescribe antidepressant medications for your loved one, and might suggest counseling, as well. Some additional things that can help with depression include:

  • Support groups
  • Predictable daily routine
  • Celebrations of small successes
  • Being a part of family life
  • Doing activities that he finds inspiring
  • Hearing repeatedly that he’s loved and will get good care
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on August 04, 2018



Alzheimer’s Association: “Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” “What Is Dementia?” and “Depression and Alzheimer’s.”

Dementia Partnerships: “Validation Therapy.”

American Occupational Therapy Association: “Dementia and the Role of Occupational Therapy.”

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy: “Physiotherapy Works: Dementia Care.”

Memory Matters: “Reality Orientation.”

Medscape: “Depression in Dementia.”


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