Last year, the Taoyuan City Government Department of Public Health ran a pilot program on “Non-medical Treatment: Pet Therapy” which involves animal “doctors” to treat patients, winning much acclaim among the public and yielding great results. This year (2017), the scale of the program has been expanded to incorporate multiple “non-medical treatment” approaches such as gardening, music, fragrance, massage, and vocational skills. It hopes to utilize sensory stimulus or physical exercise to encourage patients to experience accomplishment and fulfillment by taking part in activities, thereby stabilizing their emotions and helping them maintain a healthy body and spirit, while at the same time raising the living quality of care takers and care recipients.
Ms. Lin, 77 years old, used to be a skilled gardener before being admitted to the nursing home, with her own small garden on the balcony of her home. Taking care of the plants is one of her favorite pastimes. Therefore, the nursing home organized a gardening therapy class for Grandma Lin, encouraging her to rekindle her passion for the hobby. The gardening class helps to boost her confidence and provide a sense of accomplishment. Professional gardening therapists employ fun and humorous methods to interact with seniors with dementia, like encouraging elders to say the name of plants out loud. Through the process of gardening and flower arrangement, they help elders sharpen their concentration, relax and relieve stress, as well as enhancing their memory and social interactions.
Taoyuan City Department of Public Health stressed that to lower the risk of dementia, individuals should: include more health- and fitness-related activities in their day-to-day life (more use of their brains, more exercise, healthy meals, more social activities, and weight management), reduce high-risk elements contributing to dementia (avoiding high blood sugar, blood lipid, and blood pressure, head injuries, smoking and depression), and pay more attention to friends and family members by learning to identify the ten warning signs of dementia. When necessary, please consult specialized physicians to conduct further diagnosis to take the initiative at crucial moments to receive treatment and slow down the advances of dementia, allowing them to maintain a healthy life with healthy memories.