According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there were an estimated 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s in 2022—and that number continues to rise. Perhaps one of your loved ones or someone close to you is a part of that statistic, and as you know, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s lose the quality of life they once had.
With occupational therapy, Alzheimer’s patients can maintain their independence through individualized plans developed to improve and support different areas of their lives. First, let’s learn about what Alzheimer’s is.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that inhibits cognitive function. Some tell-tale signs of Alzheimer’s include:
- Memory loss
- Getting lost easily
- Repeating questions
- Frequently misplacing items
- Difficulty with normal activities
- Personality and behavioral changes
How Occupational Therapy Helps Alzheimer’s Patients
One of the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is the inability to perform basic, everyday tasks. This includes daily activities like bathing, eating, sleeping, communicating, and using the bathroom. Occupational therapy can help Alzheimer’s patients reinforce the quality of life they once had by creating engaging activities that improve the patient’s strengths and abilities.
Even though Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, occupational therapy can help strengthen and empower a patient’s independence—regardless if they are in the later stages of the disease.
Occupational Therapy Exercises for Alzheimer’s Patients
As we’ve learned, occupational therapy is an incredibly effective way to boost a patient’s confidence and reinforce their abilities. So how do occupational therapists help Alzheimer’s patients achieve improved functions? Generally, occupational therapists will use these strategies:
1. Environmental Modification
Memory loss is a prominent symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Many adults living with Alzheimer’s will suffer from inadequate memory, from misplacing items to forgetting who people are. In occupational therapy, modification helps create a safe environment for Alzheimer’s patients through adaption, personal assistance, and verbal and social support.
2. Maintenance & Support Systems
Often, Alzheimer’s patients forget their daily routines and habits. An occupational therapist will help support the patient by reinforcing their basic functions and habits through hanging signs on appropriate doors or swapping their closets for the correct seasonal clothing.
3. Promoting the Patient’s Strengths
It is crucial to maintain a patient’s strengths and abilities for as long as possible. This amplifies their confidence and independence. Occupational therapists will help patients by creating strategies to maintain their strength, emotions, and cognitive awareness throughout the disease’s several stages.
4. Physical and Cognitive Improvement
Unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that happens in stages. However, occupational therapists can improve a patient’s cognitive abilities by using physical exercises and cognitive activities to decrease the progression of the patient’s cognitive decline.
Terra Vista Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care
Finding out that your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is devastating news—but you and your loved one don’t have to handle this challenging journey alone. Terra Vista is an Alzheimer’s care and dementia care community dedicated to providing you and your family with quality care and sincerity. Our staff in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, offers innovative memory care services for our residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia so your family member can regain their independence and feel confident while doing it.