Occupational Therapy Role in Alzheimer's Disease

Category: Health

By Dr.Beniel Raja

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and eventually, the ability to function. It is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for the decline in mental abilities that affects memory, thinking, reasoning, and behavior.


The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease include:

Age: The risk of Alzheimer's disease increases with age, especially after the age of 65.
Family history: Having a parent, sibling, or child with Alzheimer's disease increases your risk of developing the disease.

Down syndrome: People with Down syndrome have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Head injury: A severe head injury can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.

  • Memory loss, especially forgetting recent events or conversations
  • Difficulty with planning and problem-solving
  • Problems with language, such as trouble finding the right words or understanding what others are saying
  • Changes in mood or personality, such as confusion, agitation, or anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed

Early stage:

This stage is often referred to as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

People in this stage may experience:
  • Mild forgetfulness, especially of recent events
  • Difficulty with planning and problem-solving
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyedMiddle stage:
  • As the disease progresses, symptoms become more noticeable and interfere with daily activities.
People in this stage may experience:
  • More significant memory loss, including forgetting names of close friends and family members
  • Difficulty with communication, such as trouble finding the right words or understanding complex sentences
  • Difficulty with reasoning and judgment
  • Changes in personality, such as becoming withdrawn or suspicious
  • Needing assistance with daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing, and eating
Late stage:

In the late stage, people become completely dependent on others for care.

They may experience:
  • Severe memory loss and confusion
  • Inability to communicate effectively
  • Difficulty swallowing and eating
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Increased risk of infections and other health problems

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but there are medications and treatments that can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

These include:
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: These medications work by increasing levels of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain that is important for memory and thinking.
  • Memantine: This medication works by blocking the action of glutamate, another chemical messenger in the brain that can be harmful in high levels.
  • Non-drug therapies: There are also a number of non-drug therapies that can help people with Alzheimer's disease, such as cognitive stimulation therapy, music therapy, and exercise.
  • Environmental modifications: Adapting the home environment to make it safer and easier to navigate, such as removing clutter, installing grab bars, or using adaptive technology.
  • Assistive devices: Recommending and training individuals on how to use tools and equipment that can assist with daily tasks, such as dressing aids, breachers, or communication devices.
  • Sensory integration: Using sensory experiences to improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety, and promote engagement.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation: Implementing strategies to improve memory, attention, problem-solving, and communication skills.
  • Motor skills training: Addressing physical limitations and promoting strength, balance, and coordination to maintain mobility and independence.
  • Therapeutic activities: Engaging individuals in meaningful activities that provide cognitive
  • stimulation, social interaction, and enjoyment

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