Psychological Therapists And Their Role In Alzheimer’s Treatment



Alzheimer’s disease is prevalent in old age and is one of the primary causes of memory loss and intellectual abnormalities. Not only those, several psychological and behavioral symptoms are also present in a patient with Alzheimer’s. It is for these reasons that doctors have considered psychological therapists to be part and parcel of the first phase of Alzheimer’s treatment.

Typically, the decreased cognitive function seen in persons with Alzheimer’s disease is both persistent and progressive. However, the psychological issues that arise from the disease are different. They tend to vary, and they come and go according to the person’s current mood and emotions. That is why professors, physicians, and other members of the medical team agree that psychotherapy, which talk therapy is a part of, must be applied in conjunction with medication treatment. Still, others insist that it is only more effective in the early phases of the disease.

Take a vulnerable, impressionable human being out of his/her element, and things get confusingly freaky. I saw this with Gramps when he was hospitalized for a quick procedure (and confused for at least a week afterwards). — Meika Loe Ph.D.

The psychotherapist can help patients cope with depression, anxiety, and fears following that are a result of the disorder. They may also manifest with delusions and other behavioral issues. The talk therapist guides individuals who are struggling with accepting the new diagnosis. Gradually, the therapist becomes less needed by the patient as cognitive dysfunction occurs and the patient soon loses the capacity to express how he feels. Perhaps the caregivers, family members, or guardians will benefit more from talking to a psychotherapist or other mental health professionals.

Treating Alzheimer’s Depression

About 40% of Alzheimer’s disease patients suffer from depression, which makes it one of the most prevalent mental health issue that is seen in conjunction with the disease. Apparently, neurologists say that it is not easy to treat depressed Alzheimer’s patients, as this will aggravate their cognitive problems and will keep them from getting the proper care that they need.


According to Dr. Allen Levey, Neurology Chairman at the Emory University, depression often causes patients to be apathetic and less eager to do a physical activity such as exercise and other stimulating activities that may improve their condition. The usual remedy for this is to administer antidepressants, although therapy can also play a vital role.

Mental Health Professionals For Alzheimer’s

Asking help and guidance from a team of experts to work with you and your loved one’s psychological woes will be one of the smartest moves to make. The experts include but are not limited to:

  • This specialist aids freshly diagnosed patients to cope with their angry or anxious feelings that rooted in their Alzheimer’s disease. He helps the patient come to terms with these feelings and also prescribes the appropriate medication when necessary. In the late phases of the condition, one can ask the psychotherapist about a more in-depth type of therapy, emotion-oriented psychotherapy, which centers around the patient’s happy thoughts and recollections. It has also been proven to alleviate a patient’s depressive symptoms and improve their general outlook in life. The psychotherapist may eventually engage the patient in activities such as dancing or painting.


  • Geriatric Psychiatrists. For your senior loved one, he may benefit from a mental health professional that focuses exclusively on the old-aged patients. They are also qualified to help patients cope with their cognitive disabilities like those with Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Social Workers. These are mental health professionals skilled in helping Alzheimer’s patients as well as caregivers and other family members. They work with them in their efforts to deal with certain activities or chores that they can do at home, with the family, or in the community.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of what you think may be Alzheimer’s disease contact your local or state psychological association for referrals. — Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.

Psychological Therapists For Carers And Family Members

Caregivers and family members of Alzheimer’s patients may also be included in the therapy, which is done by a psychological therapist or a psychiatrist. They are evaluated according to the level of stress and anxiety that they are in, and then the mental health expert creates a plan that is aimed at improving the caregivers and the family members’ well-being. They are also engaged in healthy activities for and with their loved one with Alzheimer’s. This is therapy for the patients and enhanced knowledge for the caregivers and family members.



Psychiatrists, in particular, can teach family members how to identify various problems and deal with them. For instance, there might be something that has been causing the patient’s depression in the home, or the loud sound of the television agitates him. Identifying these situations as possible triggers and knowing how to correct them will spare your loved one and yourself as well from undue stress.


The bottom line is that unless you have a diagnosed deficiency, a current diagnosis of dementia, or a family history, the best brain-protective strategy is probably to consume foods that are good sources of vitamin E and/or other micronutrients, fiber, and other healthy phytochemicals, and avoid diets known to increase the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. — Traci Stein, PhD, MPH

Talking to your doctor about visiting a psychological therapist or psychiatrist is worth the time and money if you care about the person with Alzheimer’s disease. It can tremendously impact the treatment process both for you and the patient as well.




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