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How Occupational Therapy Improves Dementia
April is Occupational Therapy Month! Sarah Bapst, a geriatric occupational therapist from Amedisys Home Health would like to shed light on the history and importance of this type of therapy, especially those with Dementia! North Star Senior Advisors thanks you for all you do for the senior population and are pleased to share your blog to help explain how Occupational therapy improves dementia. This information can really aid those who are assisting a loved one with Dementia.
Happy Occupational Therapy month! Occupational Therapy became a profession in 1917 with the focus of intervention being the curative nature of the use of daily activities for the promotion of health and general wellbeing. Occupational Therapy historically has been driven by the importance of treating not only the body but the mind with an emphasis on the balance of rest and activity to promote improved general homeostasis. So, who better to treat individuals suffering from a diagnosis of dementia?
Dementia progresses in stages and initially impacts cognitive functions related to memory and executive functions; impairing the ability to safely sequence tasks and impairing the ability to effectively coordinate movement. Preservation of personal dignity and encouraging a sense of self-worth through the completion of common daily skills acquired through life is essential. It is important for caregivers at this stage to engage and include the individual in the performance of self-care, incorporating what I call progressive cueing techniques. It is not uncommon for caregivers to just start doing things for an individual that they are capable of due to time constraints. However, this not helping the individuals help themselves and results in loss of coordination, balance, strength, and so forth. The caregivers can provide an initial verbal cue which, generally is an instruction: “put on your shirt”. If unsuccessful, follow step by step verbal cues:” Put your right arm in the sleeve,” then physical prompt or cue, and lastly, physical assistance as needed for the preservation of intact skills. Occupational therapists initially assesses a patient to determine at what level a patient can perform, identifying safety concerns and recommendation of equipment, limitations, and barriers impacting function, which can also include physical barriers i.e.: limitations in strength, balance, and range of motion (ROM) in addition to cognitive impairments present. Occupational Therapist also considers the psychosocial aspect of the patient; what motivates the patient, level of alertness and determining what is the best time of day for the performance of task while upholding to the demands of a patient’s present environment.
Patients progress through stages of dementia. Ultimately, the patient may progress to being totally dependent, wheelchair or bed-bound. It is important to uphold their dignity and slow the progression through the use of stimulation and participation in Activities of Daily Living, commonly referred to by Occupational Therapist as ADL’S. As the patient stages and stabilizes, it is important for the patient to be re-assessed as the patients’ level of function and capabilities changes through the natural course of dementia.
At North Star Senior Advisors, we help guide families and their loved ones locate seniors living in the Central Florida area from start to finish. If you are interested in assisted living, memory care, or home health services, please call a senior advisor today at (407) 796-1582 or visit our website at www.northstarsa.com.