Non-medical Treatment

Non-medical treatments of dementia are just as important as medical treatments.

The effect of non-medical treatment, including cognitive training, reality orientation, confirmation therapy, multi-sensory stimulation and other psychological and behavioural treatments, has been proven in academic literatures. These treatments can improve the emotional and behavioural problems of patients, slow down the degradation of cognitive abilities as well as enhance the quality of life.

Non-medical treatment and diverse activities provide dementia patients with suitable training and meaningful activities to keep stimulating the brain and slow down deterioration. Through carefully planned activities, patients can enjoy thorough care for their physical and emotional conditions as well as their social life so as to enhance their quality of life.

  • Reality orientation
    It is a treatment that is carried out with the help of some special skills and methods. Environmental prompts will be used to help patients receive messages from the real environment and reduce mental confusion, so that they can achieve optional functionality in everyday life, stay informed and avoid being out of touch of reality.
  • Reminiscence therapy
    It is easy to integrate reminiscence activities with everyday life and conversations. This can be conducted through interviews or group sharing. Use familiar items from the past (such as old pictures, clothes, music or books) to encourage patients to recollect their past in an organized manner to foster their confidence, communication and exchange with others.
  • Sensory stimulation therapy
    Due to damage to neurons and cognitive functions, dementia patients may find themselves unable to understand the surrounding environment. Provide suitable sensory stimulations, such as presenting some meaningful or familiar scents, motions, feelings, videos, sounds and flavours, to reduce their anxiety and confusion.
  • Memory training
    The damage of hippocampus in the brain causes memory loss, which can be slowed down through encouraging patients to engage in different learning activities, such as reading, playing mahjong, card games, chess or watching movies they enjoy.
  • Art and craft
    Patients can enjoy the fun and sense of accomplishment from creating something out of simple steps, through which they can enhance their self-esteem and express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Birthday parties, festival celebrations and outdoor activities
    Bring groups of patients and their caregivers together at the activity centres through festival events and birthday parties so that they can offer mutual support and care for one another as well as feel loved and treasured.


(1) Early to middle stage

1. Maintain physical mobility and the ability to walk
Early and middle stage dementia patients can still walk freely. Appropriate exercises can help them maintain physical strength and the extent of limb movement, increase their muscle volume and enhance hand-foot coordination for a higher quality of life. Given their deteriorating memory, patients can formulate exercise timetable with their families as a reminder for regular exercise.
Bend forwards
Bend backwards
Bend left and right
Turn left and right
Turn left and right
Bend left and right
Upward arm lift
(Use an umbrella or a water bottle)
Side arm lift
Elbow flexion and extension
Wall push
Closed fist and open hand
Half squat
March on the spot
Outward leg raise
Knee joint extension
Standing heel and toe raises

2. Use of walker
Middle stage dementia patients will slowly experience decline in their walking ability. After the evaluation of physiotherapist, patients can use suitable walkers to assist walking, improve their ability to walk and reduce the risk of falling.

Walking stick

Four-legged walking stick


Wheeled walker

(2) Late stage

Late stage dementia patients will lose their mobility completely. Caregivers should learn lifting techqiues properly as well as joint stretching to help prevent the onset of joint stiffness and enhance mobility. Family and caregivers should contact physiotherapists for more details.
1. Caregiver training
Lifting techniques
Lifting by one person
Lifting by two people
Passive exercise
Upper limb
Lower limb

Occupational Therapy

The roles of occupational therapists at memory clinics is to help patients and caregivers reduce the problems brought by memory loss and alleviate the burden of caregiver so as to make patients able to remain independent in everyday life and their lives more delightful.

1. Therapists conduct professional cognitive assessment for patients.

2. Instruct caregivers on the right communication skills and provide suggestions for the everyday routine arrangement.

3. Provide suggestions for improvement in living environment to reduce the dysfunction of patients and promote home safety.

4. Instruct caregivers in assisting patients in suitable memory training and reminiscence activities.
Memory training

Photo review

More relevant information (Chinese Version Only)

Source:律敦治及鄧肇堅醫院 - 認知障礙症照顧者手冊
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Last Update: 22/9/2023