5 Most Effective Psychosocial Treatments for Dementia

Are you looking for the latest, most prolific psychosocial treatments for dementia? You are in the right place. Before we dive into the treatment methods, I would like to touch upon a few key points.

It is no secret that dementia makes a person forgetful, but the cognitive decline is gradual and not sudden. Until the later stages of dementia, a person can perform most activities of daily living. 

In a nutshell, a dementia-affected person with mild cognitive decline can function normally. No need to panic if you are a family member of someone with this condition. You and your loved one will get through this challenging situation soon.

The psychosocial treatments discussed in this post are scientifically proven to make a difference in the life of your loved one. [1]

Needless to mention, these treatments won’t make dementia go away, but they will slow down cognitive decline.

Always remember that dementia-affected folks are not disturbed, crazy, unhinged, or out of their senses. They are experiencing slow cognitive decline, and with your help, they can live a normal life for years to come. 

What Is a Psychosocial Treatment or Psychosocial Intervention?

Psychosocial Treatments (Interventions) are designed to enhance a patient’s cognitive abilities in relation to their social environment. As the patient undergoes Psychosocial therapy, he/she begins to feel a stronger connection with themselves and the world around them. They become calmer and happier.

Here Are the 5 Most Effective Psychosocial Treatments for Dementia

#1 Validation Therapy

Naomi Feil, an American Gerontologist came up with the concept of Validation therapy in 1963. This non-medical treatment method is designed to help the elderly with dementia communicate without feeling judged or ignored. 

Naomi encourages family members of a dementia-affected person to be kind and empathetic with their loved ones. 

Validation therapy involves listening to a dementia patient’s problems first and formulating an empathetic response instead of a clever-sounding one.

Caregiving is not easy. It is normal for a caregiver to feel compelled to shut the dementia patient up by responding cleverly or logically. And that might work in the short term. But most certainly not in the long run. In every conversation you have with the patient, your goal should be to put them at ease. 

Moreover, you must diffuse the situation if things go awry. Validation therapy teaches the caregiver to grow calmer every day, so their mental state gets transferred to the patient.

#2 Memory Training

Memory training involves utilizing advanced “external memory aids” to help dementia patients in their everyday activities. The caregiver must have proficiency in using both electronic and non-electronic external memory aids. Teaching the patient to use these memory aids is relatively simple. [2]

#3 Music Therapy

music therapy

Music therapy is one of the most effective psychosocial treatments for dementia. The therapy sessions are conducted by a trained and certified music therapist. 

Music therapy is more than just listening and enjoying the tunes at home. Caregivers are needed to take the patient to a therapy center at least once a week.

The primary goal of a music therapist is to help dementia patients explore their inner feelings. Most often, dementia patients keep their negative emotions buried deep inside them. The trapped emotions begin to slowly tear them up inside.

Attending regular music therapy sessions will help dementia patients talk about things that bother them. After the session, they will feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. 

Furthermore, some sessions may also involve live music. The therapist is trained to play calming instruments such as Chime, Harp, Guitar, Spirit Drums, Kalimba, Chakapa, etc. 

#4 Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscence therapy was first designed to treat depression and loneliness among the elderly living in nursing home facilities. The principal idea is to help the patient remember the important events of their life. 

Once everything is laid in front of their eyes, they feel at ease with the idea of death, and not being able to see their loved ones after passing. 

They become calm about their difficult life situation as there is nothing left to worry about. In addition to helping the lonely and depressed, Reminiscence therapy is scientifically proven to enhance the life of a dementia-affected person. [3]

Studies show that reminiscing about one’s past life constructively and positively can help improve memory and mood. 

Post therapy, a dementia-affected person will be able to talk about his/her life briefly and clearly— no longer endless rants that go nowhere. 

Reminiscence therapy is conducted in a group setting— the family members of the patient can always ask for it to be held privately. The therapist may use props such as songs, old photo frames, video clips, scents, etc to trigger past memories in a patient. 

#5 Pet Therapy 

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy (also known as animal-assisted therapy) involves the inclusion of an animal (most often a dog or a cat) in the treatment sessions. Pets are used as a focal point during group therapy sessions. They give everyone a reason to smile. 

Dementia-affected folks can benefit from having a reliable pet by their side. It is difficult for a caregiver or a family member to accompany them 24×7. Simply having a pet by their side can be therapeutic, and speed up the process of recovery.

Note that every animal has abilities that are unique to them. It is recommended that you consult the patient before purchasing a pet. Animals can be excellent companions, but you also want to be aware of the downsides of keeping a pet. 

For instance, you want to avoid potential accidents such as a dog bite. Accidents are less likely to occur if the patient gets along naturally with the animal.

What does the research say?

In this study, researchers looked at a bunch of studies done over the last 10 years to figure out which ways of helping people with dementia work the best. You see, doctors and caregivers are often unsure about what to do because different studies say different things, and some studies are better than others.

They gathered information from 22 different reviews of studies, and these reviews covered a lot of different things like exercise, brain games, and other ways to help people with dementia. In total, they looked at 197 different studies.

What they found is that exercise and group brain games seem to be pretty good at helping people with dementia. When it comes to exercise, they found that doing different kinds of exercises, especially ones that are a bit challenging, can make people with dementia move better, think better, and do everyday stuff more easily.

And then, when it comes to group brain games, it seems that these games can help with memory and thinking skills, make people more social, and even make their lives better overall.

But, here’s the tricky part: when it comes to talking or counseling (psychological) and getting people to be more social (social interventions), they couldn’t really say for sure if these things always make people with dementia feel better or behave better. That’s because the studies they looked at were all a bit different, and it’s hard to say one way works for everyone.

So, in simple words, this study tells us that exercise and group brain games are good for folks with dementia. It makes them move better and think better. But for talking and getting them to be more social, it’s not so clear if it always works the same for everyone. The researchers say we should look more into this and see if we can figure out why these things help some people with dementia more than others.


The primary purpose of psychosocial treatment is to slow down the rate of cognitive decline in dementia-affected folks. Before adopting a treatment method, you want to keep your expectations in check. Please don’t expect miracles. 

The aforementioned treatment methods do not come with any side effects. However, family members of a dementia-affected person must consult a certified therapist. This post was merely intended to inform and educate a caregiver on non-medical interventions.

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