Occupational therapy is often associated with the rehabilitation process. Still, the primary purpose of occupational therapy is to enable patients to be more fully involved in everyday activities. Occupational therapy for seniors focuses primarily on improving ADLs or the needed day-to-day skills. OTs don’t specialize in manual therapy like physical therapists. Instead, they help senior citizens maintain their independence when patients struggle to perform the basic activities of daily living, such as walking, cooking, bathing, dressing, or achieving personal hygiene goals. They also assist seniors in adapting to difficulties they may face due to their disabilities.

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Dementia of any kind involves a gradual loss of cognitive function. The memory problems which manifest can wreak havoc on the ability to keep up with day-to-day activities. That is where an occupational therapist (OT) can help.

An OT provides dementia patients and their families with the tools and resources needed to maintain memory function for as long as possible. They offer practical strategies and share techniques both with the patient and with their loved ones.

Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Caregiver Education and Support: OTs provide education to family members, caregivers, and those in the early stages of dementia regarding the disease and its implications.

Relieving Caregiver Burden: An OT can assist in establishing routines to make the caregiver’s job a little easier. Routines can ensure that the patient is eating enough, taking medications correctly, and staying hydrated. The OT can also assess if the individual responds better to specific types of cues and train the caregiver in appropriate communication strategies.
An OT can also offer coping strategies and emotional support to the caregiver.

Minimizing Behavioral Issues: ADLs can be more challenging when someone is living with cognitive impairment. The difficulty in performing everyday tasks can cause frustration, embarrassment, and anxiety. Occupational therapy can streamline and simplify tasks to reduce the probability of emotional outbursts and anger.

Reducing the Level of Care Needed: While occupational therapy cannot cure dementia or improve cognitive capability, an OT can employ compensatory strategies to improve function. They may offer methods to simplify tasks or retrain the patient in skills they may need. They may also restructure the individual’s environment to help the patient perform simple tasks more safely and effectively – translating into less work for the caregiver.

Improving Safety and Functional Ability: Studies have shown that occupational therapy can provide a higher level of safety for people living with dementia. An experienced therapist will evaluate the residence and offer recommendations for an environment that involves less stress. You may need to purchase or install additional equipment, such as grab bars or wheelchairs, or declutter and reduce the amount of furniture.

Encouraging Relationships and Social Engagement: Dementia is identified by behaviors that put significant stress on relationships. One of these is a loss of effective communication. An occupational therapist can assess how problematic behaviors are affecting the patient’s relationships and social interactions. They will also identify triggers and help everyone to not only cope but thrive given the situation.

If your loved one is dealing with memory loss and the burden has become too difficult at home, it may be time to consider a memory care center. At A Banyan Residence of Venice, we understand that this is a challenging and emotional time. Our team of professional and compassionate caregivers is here to answer any questions you may have. We can help you make the best decision regarding the most appropriate care for your loved one.