Dementia: holistic treatment approach

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Dementia: Holistic treatment approach with "MAKS aktiv"

In view of the growing number of people affected, dementia is also becoming an issue in Germany. Various new treatment approaches are available, which include holistic support for people with dementia, not least to reduce the massive use of medication. One of these new methods is the "MAKS aktiv" therapy program, which is currently being tested.

Treat dementia without medication
The new procedure of non-drug multicomponent therapy (MAKS active) is based on stimulating the motor, everyday practical, cognitive and spiritual abilities of the patient and thus helps to ensure that those affected remain cognitively stable, explains Elmar Gräßel from the University Clinic in Erlangen. 129 people with dementia are treated with the new method in five nursing homes of the Diakonie Neuendettelsau, whereby the motor, everyday practical, cognitive and spiritual abilities of the patients are stimulated and encouraged for six hours a week.

Experience community, structure and reliability
This holistic approach to treatment not only improves the mood of the patient and trains their practical everyday skills, but also “enables people to recognize what is still in them. The regular meetings enable them to discover community, structure and reliability, "explains Stephan Abt, head of the Sigmund Faber home in Hersbruck.
And not only the patients but also the employees benefit from the varied therapeutic offer. Because to relieve the nursing staff, an improvement in the depressive mood of dementia patients, according to Renate Stemmer from the Catholic University of Applied Sciences Mainz, is extremely important. Stephan Abt adds that the combination of MAKS active and dementia medication for the first time also makes it seem realistic to temporarily improve the skills of those affected.

The same effects as with medication
According to Prof. Elmar Gräßel from the Psychiatric and Psychotherapeutic University Clinic in Erlangen, "MAKS aktiv" can achieve about the same effects on memory and thinking as with the currently best available drugs. According to Prof. Gräßel, the new method has a stronger impact on everyday practical abilities and the overall symptoms of the patient and, in his view, is likely to have longer-lasting effects than the known drugs. According to Prof. Gräßel, the social behavior of the dementia has clearly improved as part of the treatment and they were less aggressive and less depressed.

MAKS aktiv is one of 29 "lighthouse projects dementia", for which the Federal Ministry of Health has provided a total of 13 million euros in funding. The basic requirement for the participation of the patients was that they were still able to participate in group offers. However, the form of care is very time-consuming and personnel-intensive, so that treatment methods such as MAKS can only be organized actively in individual cases, explained Stephan Abt. However, the results were convincing: some test subjects suddenly spoke whole sentences again and were two hours long was still mentally present after the session. In some cases, the patients could even remember forgotten things from their lives or lost skills.

Almost 1.3 million people suffer from dementia in Germany, with Alzheimer's being by far the most common form. Around a third of those affected currently live in nursing homes. The symptoms of a disease range from lack of concentration, loss of orientation over time and space, passivity and helplessness to the loss of knowledge and one's own biography. People with dementia often react overwhelmed to changes or innovations and sometimes even aggressively. (fp, 09/25/2010)

Also read:
World Alzheimer's Day: experts warn of dementia
Dementia is becoming a widespread disease
Age dementia is on the rise in Germany
Alzheimer's: Vitamin B can prevent dementia
Men are more often affected by memory loss

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