Patients with dementia have been benefited by occupational therapy which helped them to learn how to perform tasks around the house thereby improving as well as helping their caregivers, according to recent research.
Dementia such as Alzheimer's disease hikes up costs of health-care and social services in developed countries because people lose independence as a result of this disease. Besides, current drugs do not improve the symptoms of dementia.
Dutch researchers randomly assigned 135 patients with mild to moderate dementia and their caregivers to receive occupational therapy sessions or no therapy in order to test the effectiveness of occupational therapy on the daily functioning of people with dementia.
The researchers said, 'Occupational therapy improved patients' daily functioning and reduced the burden on the caregiver, despite the patients' limited learning ability.'
These findings could influence public health-care systems and private insurance companies to reconsider payments for occupational therapy for people with dementia, in the assumption that they have poor rehabilitation potential.
Those in the treatment group were given 10 home-based sessions over five weeks with experienced occupational therapists who taught techniques to cope with mental decline.
It was found that around 75 per cent of patients who received the therapy showed improved motor skills while 82 per cent needed less help with daily tasks according to the report made by Maud Graff, of the University Medical Center Nijmegen, Netherlands, and colleagues in Friday's BMJ Online First.
Only 10 per cent showed similar improvements among the group which did not receive training. In addition caregivers who were also taught the coping methods reported feeling more competent, as well.
The researchers said that the benefits lasted at 12 weeks, or seven weeks after the therapy program was completed.
The team concluded, 'Because outcomes such as improvement in activities of daily living and sense of competence are associated with a decrease in need for assistance, we believe that, in the long term, occupational therapy will result in less dependence on social and health-care resources and less need for institutionalization.'