Error less Learning technique- A Novel Method For People Having Dementia

Dementia or memory loss is a common characteristic of the majority domain of central neural degenerative disease. Among these disease dementias occurring from Alzheimer’s disease require a noteworthy mentioning as loss of cognitive skill is a notable domain of the condition.Even though dementia is commonly associated with the neurologic domain experts at he Mayo Clinic differs in their view. They suggest that dementia as a whole cannot be associated with any disease but it  comes under a group of conditions where affective thinking and social abilities interferes in a patient’s life to such an extent that it interferes significantly with daily functioning.


(Image credit- Digital art at

Many factors contribute to the development of dementias ,among them Alzheimer’s disease is the main reason for progressive cognitive decline. Loss of memory alone cannot be considered as dementia. Medically at least two brain functions should be affected for a person to be categorized under dementia. Most notable is loss of memory and impaired judgement in activities of  day to day life. Dementia is never the end of the road,most of the dementias are curable and some are even reversible.

The risk factors for dementia can be categorized into modifiable and non modifiable risk factors. Risk factors that cannot be altered includes age, family history.down’s  syndrome. Modifiable risk factors, means with diligent care the risk can be reduced to zero includes alcohol consumption, blood pressure, cholesterol, atherosclerosis,high estrogen level, obesity, smoking etc.

Cognitive decline or memory loss has found limited success with medical therapy supportive and caregiver strategies works out most of the times. Breaking up of complex tasks into smaller components,the use of things to do diary all have been tried.

 Maartje MEde Werd, a researcher from Netherland and his coworkers tried to investigate the effect of error less learning in dementia patients. They investigated 26 studies conducted till date on dementia patients mostly those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease using error less techniques.

The commonly used error less techniques quoted in the literature were broadly based on five categories.

1.No Guessing Technique– In this technique the participants were encouraged not to guess. The participants were given either a choice of right or wrong. The decision has to be made without any pause and the sequence is completed once the participants are able to make a correct response.

2.Stepwise Approach Modelling Technique- The therapist first demonstrates each step of a process and invites the patient to complete the process. Finally the patient is made to do the whole tasks without any prompting.

3.Verbal Instruction Visual Instruction Technique- The technique basically allows the individual to do the activity of his own. The therapist monitors the entire process and in case of an error either visual clue or a verbal instruction are given until the participant completes the task.

4.Vanishing Cues Technique- Here the participant performs a task and during the steps each cue is gradually removed and the person is encouraged to complete the task without the help of the cues .

5.Spaced Retrieval Technique-In the technique participant is asked to recall information with increased time intervals. If the patient hesitates therapist gives a hint. If the patient is unable to remember the interval is reduced and when the patient master the data, the recall intervals are further lengthened.


The study after analyzing the treatment strategies concluded that error less learning techniques when compared to no treatment helps in improved recall and cognitive abilities in individuals with mild to moderate dementia.



About Bibin Prasannan

A Post graduate physiotherapist specialized in orthopedics and Hand rehabilitation from manipal. His pass time hobbies includes reading books, cooking, reading Marquez. He is an avid fan of Sudha Murtys writings.
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