Non-pharmacological approaches to alleviate distress in dementia care

Gary Mitchell, Joanne Agnelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Distress is one of the most common clinical manifestations associated with dementia. Pharmacological intervention may be appropriate in managing distress in some people. However, best practice guidelines advocate non-pharmacological interventions as the preferred first-line treatment. The use of non-pharmacological interventions encourages healthcare professionals to be more person-centred in their approach, while considering the causes of distress. This article provides healthcare professionals with an overview of some of the non-pharmacological approaches that can assist in alleviating distress for people living with dementia including: reminiscence therapy, reality orientation, validation therapy, music therapy, horticultural therapy, doll therapy and pet therapy. It provides a summary of their use in clinical practice and links to the relevant literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
JournalNursing Standard
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2015


  • Dementia
  • Non-Pharmacological Intervention
  • Person-Centred Care
  • Nursing


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