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Psychotherapy - Dementia

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Patients with dementia have worsening memory impairment in addition to compromised functioning in at least one other cognitive domain. Alzheimer's disease constitutes the most frequent cause of late-life dementia. Psychotherapy with clients with dementia is made difficult by the loss of language, which complicates communication between client and therapist. The relative success of psychotherapy correlates with the level of connection and communication achieved between the therapist and client. When that client suffers from dementia, the therapist's job becomes more challenging. Subtler subvocal and paralinguistic cues of communication must be utilized in an effort to avoid clinical detachment.

Considerable debate exists on the prospect of memory interventions and the proposed success for patients with Alzheimer's disease. However, techniques using environmental adaptations and external memory aids have been used to help patients with dementia. Reality orientation programs have implemented the use of signs, diaries, memory wallets, and recordings to help patients recall personal information. Cognitive stimulation programs have also been increasingly advocated. Validation therapy acknowledges the truth of feelings behind acting-out behaviors in an effort to decrease these behaviors.

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