What is Dementia?
Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with the decline of the brain and its functions.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by a disease such as Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of Dementia but not all Dementia is caused by the disease.
What are the common difficulties associated with Dementia?
Dementia can have varying speeds of onset and present itself in a variety of ways. Below are some of the common difficulties associated with Dementia:
- Apathy or a lack of interest in usual hobbies or interests
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Personality changes
- Reduced thinking and processing speed
- Memory loss
- Difficulty recalling names of family members or familiar objects
- Difficulty understanding conversations, questions and instructions
- Problems with judging distance for example on the stairs
- Orientation to time, date or location
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help people overcome common difficulties associated with Dementia and Alzheimer’s, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can occupational therapy help people with Dementia?
Occupational therapy can be an important source of support for clients with Dementia and their families. The role of an occupational therapist (OT) is to work with clients to maximise their level of independence in their day-to-day activities. We achieve this through assessment of client’s daily life to identify goals, routines and activities that they wish to maintain, protect or work towards. The journey of Dementia is different for each person diagnosed and our role is to provide clients and their families with the ‘tools’ needed to preserve their memory and function for as long as possible.
An OT will work with a client with Dementia to identify the areas they are struggling with and help them find ways around these. We aim to provide practical advice and techniques directly to the client as well as their family members. Below are some examples of how an occupational therapist may help a client with dementia.
- Advice on new techniques to continue to complete every day activities such as dressing and meal preparation as the condition advances
- Support with sourcing the right equipment to help with difficulties as they arise, this might be the correct wheelchair or comfy chair for example
- Longer term recommendations in terms of ensuring your home will meet your needs both now and in the future. This will include considering adaptations such as wet rooms or stair lifts
- Fatigue management, as extreme tiredness is a common problem with Dementia
- Memory strategies to help manage short term memory loss
- Orientation strategies
- Reminiscence work to help manage long term memory loss
- Routine planning, to help structure the day and provide stability