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Health Matters

How important is Cognitive stimulation for the Brain with Dementia?

Dra. Sofia Neves (Neuropsychologist) . 22/07/2017

In recent years, several research studies have tried to answer that question. As various studies continue, it is observed that the combination of a pharmacological approach with cognitive stimulation in people with dementia presents positive results in delaying the evolution of the disease and improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

International guidelines for the clinical practise of dementia treatment recommend applying an intervention that increases functional autonomy and improves the psychoaffective state of patients and their families.

Therapeutic results vary according to the stage of evolution and each case can respond differently, presenting a different evolutionary rhythm. In this respect, the Neuropsychologist should select cases that can benefit from intervention and the most suitable intervention methodology, based on the neuropsychological assessment.

In an early stage, the intervention is generally individualised, but in situations of moderate dementia, group intervention is recommended. Cognitive stimulation sessions are carried out two to three times a week, and last up to 60 minutes. The total duration of the intervention varies (three, six or more months). The person with dementia should undergo neuropsychological assessments throughout the program, to analyse the evolution and reformulate the intervention plan.

Stimulation programs focus mainly on memory, since this is one of the first capacities that changes with dementia. However, they also work on attention, language, visual-spatial ability and idea association. The person must be stimulated to be aware of what they see and hear, and to retain information as a whole. It is important to note that not all memory deficits are indicative of dementia, nor do all dementias begin with mnesic deficit. There are situations where dementia begins with language difficulties, difficulties in programming movement or behavioural changes (decreased initiative or disinhibition).

All of these cognitive changes will impact on the performance of daily tasks, therefore the objective of cognitive stimulation is to promote function and autonomy of the person with dementia.

Find out more and discuss with your specialist how to combine cognitive stimulation with your treatment.

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