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A man, looking for help for his father, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, asks if there is any rese

19 Oct
A man, looking for help for his father, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, asks if there is any research showing that guided imagery helps with this condition, and Belleruth answers that the answer is, indirectly, yes..
Dear Belleruth,
Do you know of any research on using guided imagery with Alzheimer’s patients? I am looking for things to help my father.
Ben S.



Dear Ben,
Music has been cited in a Norwegian research review to be helpful in improving functioning in Alzheimer’s patients ( Myskja A, Lindbaek M. Examples of the use of music in clinical medicine. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2000 Apr 10;120 (10):1186-90), and guided imagery and meditation have been found helpful to elderly nursing home patients suffering from dementia ( Lantz MS, Buchalter EN, McBee L. The Wellness Group: a novel intervention for coping with disruptive behavior among elderly nursing home residents. Gerontologist. 1997 Aug;37 (4):551-6.) So those are two indirect indicators that the answer is probably "yes", even though I could find no specific study measuring this exactly.

I do know that, because imagery and music reach primitive parts of the brain that are relatively unaffected by Alzheimer’s, it makes sense that it would have a positive impact, at least for calming and soothing agitation, fear and distress. And we do have a lot of anecdotal feedback from professional caregivers and family that this is indeed the case. So I would suggest you give it a try, along with other methods, like massage, movement, singing and the like.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award