What is therapy?

Posted by Marissa Barnard on May 19, 2016

In Healthy Living, Activities, Main



What is therapy?

Therapy : treatment intended to relieve or heal


Therapy does not come in one shape and size. There is a different form to fit whatever needs you have. Everyone has been hurt. Hurt by someone, something, a disease, words maybe? But why do we need therapy after being hurt? We need it to become a better us.


Though some might see therapy, any form, as a sign of weakness. In fact admitting you need therapy shows just how much strength you already have.


No one knows how much therapy affects someone better then our activities directors Andrea and Marcela. They go through each month's activities with the utmost care. They incorporate all forms of therapy for our residents. Be it physical, music, pet, doll or maybe art therapy. They tailor the activities to each residents needs and concerns, making sure the residents receive twhat they need in order to become a better them.


Some kinds of therapy which Marcela and Andrea tailor their activities after are as follows:




Sensory therapy is focused on anything that affects one of the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), in some ways it also relates to a sense of location and balance.  Therapy to help in this area may use swimming, mazes, obstacle courses, constructional toys and building blocks. Hand and eye coordination can be improved with activities such as hitting a ball with a bat, popping bubbles, and throwing and catching balls, bean bags and balloons. Appropriate sensory stimulation will decrease agitation and aggression, calm restlessness, and successfully treat sleep disorders – which are all symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease.


People with Alzheimer’s disease can be soothed and calmed by beanies. With their comforting warmth, varied textures, and a size and weight similar to an infant or small pet, These products provide a calming effect and can reduce anxiety and agitation. A minute or two in the microwave and these furry friends provide two hours of heat and aroma therapy. A little time in the freezer and they are a comforting way to provide cold therapy


Long after most other memories have become inaccessible to a person in a more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease or some other progressive dementia, that person might remember songs from his or her past and even sing along with them. People often report being surprised when their mother or father who doesn’t remember who they are, and yet, sings a familiar song without missing a word. It’s not just the stimulation caused by the memory of the song that is gratifying and therapeutic, but reminiscences are also conjured. With those reminiscences, emotions that became associated with the songs long ago are brought out and relived. It’s common for a song to elicit smiles, laughter, and even tears.


Artistic and creative talents often remain strong long after Alzheimer’s disease has severely affected memory and other cognitive processes. The creation of art and the enjoyment of art are both viable and effective activities for people with dementia. The benefits derived from creative expression include reminiscence and memory stimulation, socialization, and a decrease in some or the undesirable behavioral aspects of the disease, including anxiety, apathy, and agitation.


Dogs and pets of all kinds have become increasingly common in the treatment of individuals with dementia related disorders. Due to the anxiety that social situations can cause in dementia patients, they often avoid social situations altogether, including interacting with family and loved ones. We also use pet therapy to help our Alzheimer’s residents to improve their social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.


It is a funny thing about Alzheimer’s that memories are lost in reverse order; memories formed recently are more fleeting than those from many years ago. Alzheimer’s disease starts in the hypothalamus, the region of the brain responsible for putting experiences into memory. When the hypothalamus is damaged, recent experiences never have a chance to become memories. Not until much later in the disease’s progression does it affect the regions in the brain in which older memories are stored, and so those memories are available even into later stages of the disease. This phenomenon is responsible for much of the behavior and the symptoms commonly associated with Alzheimer’s, and we need to consider its effects when communicating with and selecting activities for people affected by the disease.


Planning structured, individualized activities that involve and interest the person with Alzheimer’s may reduce many of the more disturbing behavioral symptoms of AD, such as agitation, anger, frustration, depression, wandering or rummaging. Health professionals who work with Alzheimer’s patients say therapeutic activities should focus on the person’s previous interests, cue the person to old and recent memories and take advantage of the person’s remaining skills while minimizing the impact of skills that may be compromised. Successful activities support a person’s sense of self – bringing out their skills, memories and habits – and reinforce the person’s sense of being in a group, which can provide friendship, mutual support and spiritual connectedness.


Doll therapy is also known as baby doll therapy. Anyone who has seen it happen knows that a doll has the power to soothe and comfort people with Alzheimer’s disease.  Naturally, more women than men will choose a doll to nurture. It is important that a doll not be given directly to the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Rather it should be left somewhere, on a table or sitting in a chair, for example, somewhere that she will easily find it. This way the individual can make the choice to provide care for the doll, not feel that they are being given the responsibility to do so, which could cause anxiety or result in the doll being rejected.


People with Alzheimer’s disease don’t lose the capacity for human emotion or recognition of a caring touch, even a person in the very late, severe state of Alzheimer’s retains all these capacities. There are several benefits massage therapy offers people with Alzheimer’s disease, including increased body awareness and alertness, as well as a reduction in the feelings of confusion and anxiety. You also build reassurance and trust. Massage therapy can also help ease the effects of isolation, loneliness and boredom while encouraging feelings of worthiness and well-being.

Every form of therapy is used, because we want our residents not to just live, but to thrive. Even in their later years they can still learn and grow. We always make everything here at Bel Aire Senior Living personal, so as to a happy and healthy home.

Click here to learn more about our therapies and activities offered at Bel Aire Senior Living

Want to see for yourself how much therapy works for our residents? Schedule a free consultation by clicking below. What are you waiting for! 

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