Alzheimer’s Disease Essay

1082 words - 4 pages

People with Alzheimer’s disease have impaired abilities due to the destruction of nerve cells in the brain (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2011). Alzheimer’s disease is a “degenerative brain disease of unknown cause that is the most common form of dementia, that results in progressive memory loss, impaired thinking, disorientation, and changes in personality and mood, that leads in advanced cases to a profound decline in cognitive and physical functioning” (Merium-Webster dictionary). Alzheimer’s typically occurs in the geriatric population and affects an estimated one in eight people over the age of sixty-four (Arbesman & Lieberman, 2011). Occupational therapy practitioners can help individuals who are diagnosed with this disease through many avenues. Some of the goals of occupational therapy for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are to create, restore, maintain, modify and prevent further deterioration of occupational performance (Schaber, 2010).
The occupational therapy (OT) practitioner strives to address the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the challenges that their caregivers face using evidence-based practices (EBP) (Arbesman & Lieberman, 2011). The practitioner identifies occupational deficits, sets goals, and helps their patients and caregivers carry out compensatory and envrionmental adaptations (Letts, et al., 2011). For example, a client with AD will most likely have a decrease in short term memory and, therefore, resulting communication difficulties as their disease progresses. Tasks that would have been easy in the past, such as making telephone calls, become a frustrating chore. In six different case studies by Topo, Jylha, and Laine, AD clients showed an improvement in their ability to use a telephone after their phones were adapted by pairing phone numbers with photographs and preprogramming telephone numbers. The clients slightly improved their ability to use the phone and family caregivers reported “increased satisfaction” with the adaptation (Letts, et al., 2011). Other environmental modifications that OT practitioners make include labeling cabinets and drawers so that the patient knows what should go inside (Dooley & Hinojosa, 2004) and installing grab bars (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2011). Making these individualized home modifications assists the patients by maximimizing functional independence while promoting their safety. According to the article, “Methodology for the Systematic Reviews on Occupational Therapy for Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” there is strong evidence for the effectivness of adapting the environment of individuals with AD. The environment, however, is not the only thing that must be adapted. Often patients will need their occupational therapy practitioner to help them adapt their daily routine or, in some cases, set new routines (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2011). Activities or occupations that the...

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