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Alzheimer's Disease

Occupational activities and therapies

Alzheimer's Disease

Non-drug Therapies

There is a variety of occupational activities that tend to soothe and improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s. For example, singing, listening to music, drawing, playing cards, talking about current affairs, visits with school children etc.

As soon as behavioural issues appear, non-drug therapies are introduced as treatment or in addition to medication. The effectiveness of these occupational activities on the patient’s disorder has been measured. They may be able to replace the medication.
These activities aim to preserve patients’ independence for as long as possible, to alleviate behavioural issues, to soothe patients, to restore a state of well-being or to even support caregivers. Occupational and non-drug management can be specific to different stages of the disease. Management is diverse and varied, and is carried out in groups or on a personalised basis.

Body-based therapies

Physical activity:

It is important to keep physically active for as long as possible, as this has benefits for cognitive functions and physical abilities, particularly for preventing falls and preserving mobility. Therapies adapted to the person’s needs can be administered by physiotherapists, psychomotor therapists and occupational therapists.

Physical well-being:

Techniques such as massage and relaxation can relax the person and thus reduce sleep disorders, anxiety and behavioural issues.

Reminiscence workshops

Reminiscence therapy workshops use the patient's remaining memory capacity and the evocation of old memories. Conducted with the help of the patient's relatives, the aim of these workshops is to restore elderly people to their proper place in their own history, which is marked by the events which have taken place around them and which have shaped their life. These sessions help to alleviate the behavioural and psychological issues associated with dementia. Cooking workshops or “therapeutic gardening” activities are good examples of these reminiscence-based therapies.

Therapeutic gardening and cooking workshops

These activities are designed to be accessible to all, thanks to two-level worktops or planters. Looking after a vegetable garden or the preparing a meal will reactivate forgotten actions, giving patients feelings of pleasure and involvement while stimulating their five senses: the scent of a plant, recognition of a fruit, the feel of the soil and the pleasure of tasting a ripe tomato. These workshops are also great vehicles for intergenerational exchange, where the patient returns to the role of the older person, responsible for transmitting knowledge.

The Snoezelen concept

This is a space for multi-sensory stimulation where the patient lives outside time, an environment where they can perceive with all five senses and experience new sensations. Patients are given visual, auditory, tactile, scent and taste experiences, which provide relaxation, pleasure and well-being. All emotional burdens are left aside; only the pleasure of the moment remains. The Snoezelen space becomes a place to experience, communicate and care, rich in sensations and open to the creativity of professionals: music therapy, body expression, relaxing massages, relaxation, breathing work, gentle gymnastics, or a place where patients can simply let themselves go to enjoy the shared moment, thus creating the Snoezelen “philosophy”. Snoezelen spaces can also be brought directly to the patient using multi-sensory trolleys, equipment that adapts to the configuration of a room or lounge and completely transforms the atmosphere.


A method that uses the aromatic components of plants in the form of essential oils. It can be used for massages (by physiotherapists) or diffused into the air. Aromatherapy is based on stimulating the sense of smell and helps to create a state of well-being, to develop an acquired olfactory memory, create or to recreate temporal-spatial reference points, to create olfactory anchors, and encourage patients to search for their identity by utilising one or more reference scents

Testimonial: Creating a positive emotional imprint


A caregiver must wash a patient who does not want to wash.


If they do it to follow protocol, to obey their superior, or because the family requires it, they leave a negative emotional impression and little by little, they are recognised as an “undesirable” being by the patient. They will no longer be able to wash the patient, or they will do so in increasingly violent conditions, which are unacceptable to both patient and caregiver.


In the 1970s, an American neurologist conducted an experiment. Every morning, he greeted Alzheimer’s patients with a prickly object in his hand. After a few sessions, the patients, who did not actually recognise him, refused to hold out their hands. The negative emotional impression had just been scientifically established.


On the other hand, if we know what music patients listened to at the age of 15, and we find a song that makes them feel good, we can give them a happy experience several times a day and maybe even wash them while they are listening to music. The music soothes the patient thanks to its positive emotional impression.