Editorials

Dementia and Depression: Communication is Key

3 October 2021

By Fraser

It’s important to treat dementia patients with respect and care. The disease is unfathomably cruel and the least we can do while caring for them is be helpful and interactive.

This is also true for those with early-onset dementia. The news at any age that this disease will overwhelm you obviously takes its toll mentally, with an estimated 40% of dementia sufferers experiencing severe depression.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have discovered that cognitive stimulation is incredibly beneficial to those with dementia. This means that personal and positive interaction with a helpful individual, or group of people, can reduce symptoms of depression.

This may seem obvious, but it is something that many would benefit from being aware of. Lots of young people now care for their parents and grandparents, so this type of interaction would bode well in the easing of suffering in both parties.

Cognitive stimulation is incredibly cheap and easy to do, the only real requirement being that there are two or more people. Together, participation in various activities is possible, including playing music that can help activate the patient’s memories.

As dementia worsens, patients may feel anxious, troubled, and constantly need reassurance. Cognitive stimulation acts as a happy distraction from the unpleasantness they have found themselves in.

It does mean that constant monitoring and catering are required to make sure the patient never spirals downwards into a negative state, but the chance to rest will likely occur when they’ve worn themselves out and fallen asleep.

It’s a step in the right direction. Dementia is a terrible thing, and it’s a subconscious fear many people have as they grow older. The best thing we can do is use these cognitive stimulation techniques to make comfort the priority.

Recommended Reading: Do psychedelics hold the key to curing depression?

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