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Non-Medical Therapy Ideas for Adults with Memory Loss

Non-Medical Therapy Ideas for Adults with Memory Loss

<!–[CDATA[We’re fortunate to live in a time where modern medicine has nearly eliminated many of the diseases our elderly relatives feared when they were children. Smallpox, polio, and measles aren’t nearly the threats they used to be.


However, as much as medicine has advanced, there’s still much research to be done on behalf of older adults with memory loss.

That’s why doctors and other medical professionals are exploring what they refer to as “adjunct therapies” to help adults with memory impairment enjoy a better quality of life. 

Non-Medical Therapies for Seniors Who Have Memory Loss

Let’s take a look at some of the non-medical therapies that can help older adults with memory loss live a fuller life.

Creative Arts

Studies show that adults with memory impairment can benefit from art programs, which help them become more engaged and alert. Art activities such as painting or drawing can help them communicate better and can spur memories that help participants to use their imaginations.

Try showing seniors with memory loss photographs and help them create a story, or simply allow for free creative expression through a variety of art media.


Exercising brings a variety of health benefits to everyone, and it doesn’t require a good memory to enjoy its positive impacts. Adults with Alzheimer’s are no different in this regard.

Whatever form of exercise you choose, be sure it promotes good self-esteem and doesn’t require the use of short-term memory. For example, low-impact dance sequences might seem like a good idea, but remembering the steps can be tough for someone with memory impairment. Activities like walking, chair yoga and stretching are better choices. The senior can just follow along with whatever you do.

Music Therapy

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease utilize adjunct therapies to help with cognitive and emotional struggles. Music is one such avenue.

Most seniors with memory loss can sing songs well into the advanced stages of their disease, even when they no longer recognize faces. Music is usually something most adults find enjoyable, and evidence that suggests it can also trigger forgotten memories and help support cognitive abilities.

Furry and Feathered Friends

Though pet ownership may be unfeasible in many cases, interacting with animals can help seniors with memory loss feel engaged, active, and just plain happy.  

Research shows that animals boost mood, promote calmness, decrease behavioral concerns, and improve nutrition, especially in communities that have a resident therapy dog. Other activities that involve animals, such as bird watching, can also have a positive impact.


Scent has long been connected to the part of the brain capable of forming memories. But using aromatherapy to treat dementia symptoms has proven to be more effective than just helping with memory functions.

Studies show that lavender and lemon balm essential oils reduce agitation and anxiety. Peppermint improves memory and appetite. Rosemary can help with memory and cognition. And bergamot is known for its calming abilities and for improving sleep.

Dementia and general aging can diminish olfactory senses, but high quality essential oils can be just as beneficial when applied to the skin. Talk to your loved one’s primary care physician for more advice.

Alzheimer’s Resources at Five Star Senior Living

For support and guidance on caring for a senior with dementia, visit the resources section of our website. There, you’ll find more information for caregivers of seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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