Curbing the effects of memory loss is one unexpected duty some occupational therapists take on. Whether the result of aging or a byproduct of physical trauma, memory loss can become quite severe and, for those with Alzheimer’s disease, life threatening.
Occupational therapists aim to provide patients with the coping skills they need to live life independently. Turning everyday activities into a means of treating mental and physical health conditions, these therapy sessions are typically involved in a person’s daily schedule. Occupational therapists will typically visit a client at home, school or in-hospital to delineate a patient’s personal goals and design ways to achieve those goals.
Memory loss can be life-changing, affecting the ability to communicate, critically think and problem-solve. Personal hygiene may fall to the wayside as a patient may forget to eat or perform even acts of self-care. On the initial visit, the occupational therapist assesses the patient’s cognitive status and if there are personality changes present, behavioral interventions can be made.
Research has indicated the benefits of occupational therapy on those suffering from memory loss. A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy concluded that “individualized occupational therapy intervention … appears effective for both caregivers and clients” suffering from dementia. A scientific review entitled “Evidence-Based Interventions to Improve Quality of Life for Individuals with Dementia” published in the journal Alzheimer’s Care Today noted occupational therapy’s ability to “preserve day-to-day functioning” and “promote participation in appropriate and meaningful activities.” The incorporation of physical exercise and cognitive stimulation using memory journals improved the patients’ mood, decreased behavioral issues and led to overall mental sharpness.
As memory loss progresses, an occupational therapist concentrates on improving the patient’s quality of life by keeping activities simple and improving sensory stimulation with the use of music from the patient’s favorite era and perhaps the presence of a much loved pet. An occupational therapist will make an assessment of a patient’s fall risk and take into consideration seating needs in beds or wheelchairs as well as recommending a stretching program to prevent pain and muscle contractures.
Sovereign Health Florida treats mental health disorders, addictions and behavioral problems. Caregivers for patients diagnosed with memory loss and/or dementia sometimes find themselves under much stress and may need mental health assistance. We emphasize to our clients the importance of a full social life, brain wellness and cognitive awareness. If you would like more information, please call to speak with a member of our team.
Written by Veronica McNamara, Sovereign Health Group writer
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