Occupational Therapy and Alzheimer’s

by Cheryl Hall on June 24th, 2023

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain awareness month and a perfect time to talk about why OT is a key member of the healthcare team treating patients with this disease.

While I worked with all ages as an OT, one of my most rewarding experiences was assisting patients and caregivers managing Alzheimer’s. OT’s person-centered, holistic approach to patient care focuses on creating a supportive and safe environment for patients while maintaining as much independence as possible, for as long as possible.

Occupational therapy works with patients in all stages of Alzheimer’s disease with a focus on function, cognition, behaviors, as well as late-stage complications. The inclusion of OT enhances the quality of life for both the patient and their caregiver with interventions across each stage.

ADL, IDAL, productivity and leisure training will focus on enhancing quality of life and maintaining independence. Interventions will vary by stage and could include visual clues such as labeling drawers for early-stage patients; progressing to task segmentation and step-by-step instructions with cues at mid-stage; with late-stage intervention including sensory stimulation.

Physical exercise and activities are focused on maintaining ROM, strength, and endurance with PROM training for caregivers as a late-stage intervention. Cognitive stimulation can be used throughout the progression of the disease to maintain function as long as possible.

Compensatory strategies are primarily used in the early stages of the disease to enhance memory and organization. Some activities in this stage can include the development of a memory notebook, life story notebook or life story box.

Fall risk and prevention strategies include not only fall prevention techniques but ways to safeguard against the risk of wandering.

Modifications to task and technique focus on maintaining independence and quality of life with recommendations for performance-based home modifications, adaptive equipment, or assistive technology.

Caregiver support and education increases appropriately as the disease progresses to include training in PROM and positioning strategies in late stage.

The Occupational Therapy Toolkit includes 4 comprehensive treatment guides for the occupational therapist that address each stage of this progressive disease as well as number of related treatment guides and patient education handouts.

All Alzheimer patients deserve to have OT on their side as they navigate their journey with this disease.

For more resources on Alzheimer’s disease check out the “Links” Tab on my website https://www.ottoolkit.com/links.

  • About Me

    Cheryl Hall
    Occupational Therapist
    Maryland, United States

    Welcome to a site devoted to sharing experience, knowledge and resources to make your job of being a great therapist a lot easier.

    I have been an occupational therapist for more than 30 years. I graduated from San Jose State University with degrees in Occupational Therapy, Gerontology, and Early Child Development. My passion is working with adults and children in home health but I have also worked in rehab, sub-acute rehab, hand therapy, transitional living for TBI, and hospital-based outpatient settings.

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