Non-medical ways to reduce dementia and Parkinson’s symptoms

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Dementia and Parkinson’s disease are two progressive neurological conditions that significantly impact daily living, not only for those diagnosed but also for their families and caregivers.

While medication is often a key component of treatment, many non-medical approaches can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

This review explores several evidence-based, non-medication strategies that have shown promise in easing the symptoms of these challenging conditions.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is highly beneficial for people with dementia and Parkinson’s disease. For those with Parkinson’s, exercises specifically designed to improve balance and walking can significantly enhance mobility and may reduce the risk of falls.

Studies have shown that routines incorporating Tai Chi, yoga, and dance are not only enjoyable but also improve strength and flexibility, which can help maintain motor skills longer.

In dementia, physical exercise has been demonstrated to improve cognition and slow the decline in daily functioning. Activities like walking or light aerobics can also reduce agitation and improve mood, which are common challenges associated with the condition.

Cognitive Therapy and Activities

Cognitive stimulation involves engaging in activities and exercises that stimulate thinking. These include puzzles, memory games, reading, or interactive digital apps designed to enhance cognitive function.

Research suggests that regular cognitive stimulation can improve symptoms of confusion and agitation in people with dementia. In Parkinson’s, cognitive training may help manage the executive function deficits, such as multitasking, planning, and problem-solving.

Music and Art Therapy

Music therapy involves listening to soothing music or singing songs, which has been shown to have a powerful effect on both dementia and Parkinson’s patients.

For those with dementia, music can trigger memories and emotions, leading to improved mood and reduced stress. In Parkinson’s, music can aid movement and coordination, as the rhythm helps cue certain physical activities, making it easier to initiate movement.

Art therapy is another creative outlet that offers benefits for dementia and Parkinson’s disease patients. It provides a means of expression for those who may struggle with verbal communication and helps to reduce feelings of isolation or depression.

Engaging in art can improve mental health by providing a focus, reducing anxiety, and even improving some cognitive skills.

Diet and Nutrition

Dietary changes can also play a role in managing symptoms. The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish, has been associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseeds, are particularly noted for their anti-inflammatory properties and potential to support brain health.

Social Interaction and Support Groups

Maintaining social connections can be challenging as dementia or Parkinson’s disease progresses. However, social interaction is crucial in managing these diseases.

Community centers, local support groups, and online forums can provide vital social support. Engaging with others in similar situations can alleviate the sense of isolation and provide both patients and caregivers with practical strategies for daily living.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and improve emotional regulation in people with dementia and Parkinson’s.

These techniques encourage a focus on the present moment and can lead to a calmer and more centered feeling.


While there is no cure for dementia or Parkinson’s disease, integrating non-medication approaches into daily routines can significantly improve quality of life. These strategies help manage symptoms by focusing on what individuals can still do and enjoy, rather than what they have lost.

Regular exercise, engaging in cognitive and creative activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and fostering social connections are all crucial steps that can support individuals in living fuller, more satisfying lives despite their conditions.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about low choline intake linked to higher dementia risk, and how eating nuts can affect your cognitive ability.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.

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