In this month’s series of blogs at Lesya Dyk O.T. Services – we are giving Alzheimer’s a 360 degree treatment. Occupational therapists have an important role in helping clients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia live their lives as functionally and productively as possible.
I dedicate this series to my uncle Hans (not his real name), who is defying the odds and is living with the disease, staving off the worst of the functional difficulties with exercise and activity. He is the reason that I am talking to some of the best resources that we have in the community to help us with answers to the tough questions.
As an Occupational Therapist, I have treated many people with Alzheimer’s Dementia, as well as other types of dementia’s, but never as the primary diagnosis. I have encountered individuals who have had a traumatic brain injury and whose Alzheimer’s dementia was subsequently accelerated. I have also encountered persons with Chronic Pain Syndrome who “drank the pain away”, and developed Korsakoff’s dementia as a result. And there have been other individuals who have had a fall and a fracture, and the subsequent lack of mobility and change in function, seemed to trigger a worsening in cognitive function that was already teetering on the edge.
Some Noteworthy statistics:
- Dementia sufferer’s are twice as likely to fall as others in their age group
- They have a three times greater mortality rate, three months after a fall as compared to others without dementia
In all cases, a thorough assessment by the treatment team was key to ensuring that the proper diagnosis was established, and all the treatment recommendations were properly implemented. Maintaining function, including activities of daily living and exercise, was a key to slowing down the decline of cognitive functions and central to the OT intervention. And lastly, educating the family, especially the caregivers was important. Often the emotional sequelae of dementias come as a shock to family, and can be very hurtful. Knowing how to best support the family was often a role in helping the client stay home as long as possible.
We hope you find this informative – lets keep the awareness high because it is an issue for us all– Canada ranks 3rd in the world behind Finland and the U.S. for deaths related to Alzheimer’s. (World Health Ranking) And remember this: “Never give up hope. If you do, you’ll be dead already.–Dementia Patient, Rose (“The Inspired Caregiver”)