Dementia is a degenerative disease that can cause many behavioral and psychological symptoms that make patients difficult to care for. Although medications for these symptoms exist, not many studies have been able to provide conclusive evidence that medications such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are actually directly involved in relieving symptoms of dementia. As a result, many studies are now looking at non-pharmacological treatments that involve social interaction, simple physical activities, and other daily activities.
A study published in 2012 tested a treatment known by the acronym “MAKS”: “M” for motor stimulation, “A” for activities of daily living, “K for cognitive stimulation (German word is kognitiv), and “S” for a short introductory phase or a spiritual element (discussing topics such as happiness or singing a song). The results were very positive; the MAKS treatment significantly reduced symptoms of dementia for the 146 residents that participated in the study. Two therapists and one aide conducted the MAKS therapy for 6 months (6 days a week, 2 hours a day). Each 2 hour session started with the introductory phase in which a simple group activity was conducted to make everyone feel included. Then, 30 minutes was allotted to motor exercises, such as bowling, croquet, or balancing a tennis ball on a Frisbee and passing it to one’s neighbor. Another 30 minutes was spent on cognitive tasks, and then the last 40 minutes were spent on an individual activity such as preparing a snack or crafting with wood or paper.
After 6 months, participants in the study were less likely to exhibit challenging behavior such as running away and being aggressive and were generally happier. This improved social behavior, decrease in challenging behavior, and improvement in mood was most evident in residents with mild dementia. This study successfully showed that the MAKS therapy can greatly slow down the progression of dementia at an early stage.
Additionally, the study found that not only did the MAKS treatment work, but it also resulted in more long-term results than drug treatments. The MAKS treatment also had no side effects, as opposed to the side effects of drug treatments. The study implies that due to the overall advantage of the MAKS treatment, it is important that nursing homes treat their patients using similar non-pharmacological treatments whenever possible. The MAKS treatment and non-pharmacological treatments similar to it are much cheaper in price compared to the price of drugs, but call for an adequate amount of staff at hand to conduct group activities and to properly supervise each and every resident. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed, which is why drug treatments are used in place of other more effective and safe treatments.
There is simply no excuse for nursing homes to be understaffed, as it is a violation of a patient’s rights to not provide the proper one-on-one care. If your loved one has suffered injuries that you believe to be a consequence of understaffing, please do not hesitate to contact us today to see how we can help.