Dementia affects one in four Canadians aged 85 and over. It affects reasoning, judgement, and memory, and gets worse over time. For older adults living with dementia, depression, anxiety and agitation can arise due to the difficulty of learning new things, making decisions, loss of independence, and inability to complete daily activities. This can have implications on an individual’s quality of life. For caregivers and care professionals, finding opportunities to maintain or improve the quality of life of people living with this condition is a priority.
To improve cognitive function and mental health in older adults living with dementia, there are several research-based strategies that may help. Non-drug options include visual art therapy, massage therapy, and computerized cognitive training (a set of standardized tasks on computers or mobile devices intended to 'exercise the brain' in various ways).
Research evidence has shown that people with dementia can learn and retain new information when it’s presented in a way they understand. As such, people with dementia shouldn’t be excluded from conversations and decision-making related to their health. They should have a say in personal-care conversations and express their needs and wishes. This involvement can help improve their health outcomes and quality of life.
For more information on strategies that can benefit people living with dementia, read through our resources below.