A bit about dementia…
There are believed to be over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and 1 in 6 people over 80yrs have dementia, and still this figure is set to rise. There are also many younger people living with dementia too, who often get forgotten. There are over a hundred different types of dementia which affect people of all ages, but mostly adults. You may like to check out The Alzheimer’s Society website from this link, as they have a wealth of experience and information around dementia.
How does hypnotherapy help with dementia?
It is common for people to experience increased anxiety and depression after their diagnosis, which hypnotherapy helps reduce significantly. It can also help long term functioning and slow the rate of deterioration from dementia, according to research. People I work with feedback that it lifts the mood and improves the quality of life for a number of days following each treatment too.
What research says about hypnotherapy and dementia?
A comprehensive piece of UK research compared three groups of people with dementia over nine months and then a year later. One group had weekly hypnotherapy sessions, the second group attended weekly discussion groups and the third group followed the usual dementia treatment. The study tested six areas, including; immediate memory, motivation and improving activities of daily living – and found that all six areas were positively improved in the hypnotherapy group, compared to the other two groups. One year after treatment the hypnotherapy group were still better functioning than the other groups. The simple results graphs are very impressive! Here is the research – Alternative Approaches to Supporting Individuals with Dementia – which gives the full information.
Other research has found that some people have sufficient damage to the brain to get a diagnosis of dementia but were still mentally functioning very well and never diagnosed (1). This is believed to be caused by the brain realising it’s becoming impaired and finding alternative ways of functioning to bypass the damaged areas. It’s long been known that the brain constantly prunes and updates itself throughout our lives. Hypnotherapy can be used to make subtle suggestions to the subconscious that it needs to re-route and re-wire itself to counteract the effects of dementia, which may have a positive impact on functioning.
How can carers benefit from hypnotherapy?
Carers are welcome to attend the session for the comfort of the person with dementia and their own peace of mind, at no extra cost. They find it helps them cope better with the stress and distress caused by living with someone with dementia, who may no longer be able to support them. It can aid sleep and support a more positive mindset, enabling them to cope better.
Some carers also choose to have their own treatment, tailored to their specific needs, during this difficult time. Hypnotherapy helps carers to feel more on top of things and therefore enhances their caring ability, enabling them to cope better and for longer.
People often become very focused on what they have lost and the negative changes in their life. Getting a diagnosis of dementia is a very stressful experience for the whole family, and hypnotherapy can help support people to cope with that stress and the difficult emotions it raises.
My experience of dementia
Having worked as a social worker for over 25 years with families living with dementia, I have a good understanding of the impact it has on people’s lives. Hence I approach every person and their situation sensitively and with respect and an open mind. The impact is different for each person, but it always presents challenges, sadness and a need to adapt. Hypnotherapy can support you both to adjust to your new situation and most importantly, to find some joy in life again. This is vital to enable you both to enjoy your time as much as possible, rather than being overwhelmed by fear, the condition and prognosis.
“This treatment has made such a difference to my husband. He is calmer and happier following the treatment for five or six days. It’s like he can have a break from the dementia for a while, we both can. He really enjoys it too, so he is happy to have a session, and is even happier afterwards. He’s so relaxed in the session he sometimes falls asleep!” Joan
(1) Reference from book: A Users Guide to the Brain by Jon Ratey. Referencing “the Nun Study” by David Snowdon of 678 nuns who undertook regular rigorous mental testing and donated their brains to the project.