There is new data coming out on complementary and alternative therapies for dementia, including supplements, mindfulness techniques, exercise, music therapy, and more, said Kalin Clifford, PharmD, BCGP, BCPS, FASCP, associate professor, Geriatrics Division, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy.
There is new data coming out on complementary and alternative therapies for dementia, including supplements, mindfulness techniques, exercise, music therapy, and more, said Kalin Clifford, PharmD, BCGP, BCPS, FASCP, associate professor, Geriatrics Division, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy.
How much research is there on complementary and alternative therapies for dementia, and what additional research is needed?
I would say with complementary and alternative therapies, this is a new area that we are starting to see some data in, and with complementary and alternative therapies, it's not just supplements. It's also looking at diet; it is also looking at mindfulness techniques. Exercise, acupuncture, and acupressure are some therapies that we are looking into. Music therapy is also something that has had a lot of attention in the last few months as well and has shown some positive benefit.
In regards to additional research that's needed, I think where we need to start looking at more is looking specifically at how can we implement these and make these easier to implement. A lot of times with music therapy, you have to have a lot of the equipment. Sometimes a lot of the families that I work with just don't have access or don't have a third iPod or second set of headphones or something else to really optimize the benefit of it. So, trying to make sure that if you are going to go to these therapies that the family members and the loved ones and the caregivers have enough resources to it. And that's where a lot of the research dollars probably need to be spent, is how do we expand access to all these options for care?
What symptoms of dementia do complementary and alternative therapies most effectively treat?
Complementary and alternative medicine and complementary/alternative therapy is such a wide category. We break it down into 5 domains, and within those 5 domains, they have at least 15 to 20 different recommendations of what could be done. But from what I've seen in my practice, is a lot of the herbal supplements are sort of seeing some benefit with maybe helping delay the loss of function and maybe helping delay the loss of cognition. They don't really help with the behavioral side of Alzheimer's dementia per se. Now with music therapy, mindfulness meditation, we are seeing a lot of improvement with more of the behavioral side, and we are seeing a decrease in behavior and psychosocial symptoms of dementia, as well.