How an Occupational Therapist Can Help With Dementia

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a cognitive disorder, which affects basic cognitive skills such as memory and attention, and higher executive functioning (planning, organization and sequencing), due to damage to the brain. The majority of dementia cases (60%-80%) are classified as Alzheimer’s disease.

What are the most common signs of dementia?

The signs of dementia generally include, but are not limited to:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Decreased problem-solving skills
  • Decreased perceptual skills
  • Problem with communication and language
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to focus and pay attention

How can Occupational Therapy help people with dementia?

The occupational therapist first evaluates and determine the cognitive and functional level of the client by using different assessment tools.

Occupational Therapy interventions for those with dementia include:

  • An occupational therapist can educate the client in the early stages of the disease and their families about dementia and its functional implications.
  • Health promotion: OT helps clients to prompt their maximal performance in preferred activities by focusing on maintaining the strengths of the clients and promoting the wellness of caregivers.
  • Maintenance: OT helps clients and their families to enhance and maintain the skills and habits that are functioning well.
  • Remediation: although the remediation of cognitive skills is not expected, OT can incorporate routine exercises into their treatment plan and intervention to improve performance of the activity of daily living (ADL), functional mobility, and restore other physical skills (muscle strength, coordination and endurance).
  • Modification: OT uses a compensatory and adaptive therapeutic approach to provide and ensure safe and supportive environments for the client. OT can work on some home modifications and/or use assistive technology to increase the independent level of the client.

Providing education and support for the clients, families, prompting the person’s strengths, developing coping skills for the caregiver and ensuring a supportive modified environment for the client will provide people with dementia the support needed to live life to its fullest.

Article References

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