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Does Guided Imagery Work For People With Dementia??

16 Aug
Dear Belleruth:
I work in a nursing home where we always have confused people who are awake all night and sleep during the day. I’d love to use guided imagery for sleep or agitation. Which CD would be best for people with various types of dementia? Does guided imagery even work with brains that are damaged? Thanks,
Kay

Dear Kay,
Yes, the good news is, because imagery works on some of the most primitive, survival-based structures of the brain (as well as a few more uptown departments), it can calm and soothe even people with dementia or other conditions that involve cognitive deficits. The voice tone and music, as well as the general emotional flavor, can make a significant dent on agitation and insomnia, even if the specific meaning of the words doesn't reach the person. For this reason, guided imagery has been found to be effective for kids and adults with developmental disabilities (improving performance and reducing stress), and for people with Alzheimers and dementia.
I would use the Healthful Sleep imagery for starters at night; and the Relaxation & Wellness imagery during the day. In fact, a head nurse and I came very close to launching a study measuring this on a rehabilitation floor at University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland with agitated elderly who were waking up in the hospital, disoriented and anxious at night, and these were the two CD interventions we'd picked. Unfortunately, there was a big staff reorganization and the project fell by the wayside.

All best,


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