Quality and meaningful life involves people smoothly going about their occupations and daily activities such as gardening, playing games and preparation of meals etc. Occupations particularly are very critical to life as they describe us and how we feel about ourselves. They indeed give meaning to our lives. Disabilities, injuries, diseases and other unfavorable environmental circumstances adversely affect life to the extent of making people not go about their occupations & daily lives. Occupational therapy seeks to provide human solutions these disabilities and help individuals leave quality lives. The goal of occupational therapy is to prevent disabilities and ensure people participate fully in the community.
One medical condition that can bring about disability and adversely impact not just on how people go about their lives but also the quality of life is Alzheimer’s disease. It is a progressively degenerative and fatal disease that involves destruction of cells of the brain. This is the commonest dementia today. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease memory difficulties, problems with decision making and carrying out daily activities. These symptoms significantly and adversely impact on the quality of life as at the moment there is no known permanent cure for the condition. Research has however lead to an improvement in the way care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease is provided (Schaber, 2010).
Occupational therapists play a very important role of assisting patients and their families just how Alzheimer’s disease impacts on their lives. They work with the patients to come up with effective ways for compensating for the limitations brought about by the disease as well as helping reduce dependence. Damage on brain cells can significantly and adversely affect ones quality of life increasing dependence. Occupation therapy seeks to alleviate or minimize this dependence by helping those affected devise strategies to stay independent and lead better quality lives even with the condition.
Occupational therapy helps people suffering from the condition maintain good personal control and therefore maintain their self-esteem. Therapists teach family members and their affected loved ones as well as caregivers adapt the changes brought about by the disease. As the condition weakens the patients there is a need for measures to guarantee their safety. Occupational therapists work with families to promote patient safety by modifying their environments through installation of grab-bars, switches for shutting off ovens & stoves and thermostatic controls in the shower rooms (Edwards, 2015). They also help the patients together with their caregivers develop daily activities for maintaining good personal care, adhering to medications, exercising, having leisure and even taking meals.
In conclusion therefore Alzheimer’s disease being one of the commonest dementias affects many people. The condition progressively destroys cells of the brain resulting in continuous degeneration of quality of life. The patient ends up losing memory and strength hence becoming increasingly dependent on the significant others to go about daily life. The disease can thus cause a lot of stress not just on those affected but also their families and friends. Occupational therapy seeks to provide solutions by helping patients and their families not just understand the problem but also devises strategies for reducing dependence.
- Joyce Fraker and Hellen C. Kales et al. (2014). The Role of the Occupational Therapist in the Management of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia in Clinical Settings. Occup Ther Health Care. 28(1): 4–20.
- Mega Edwards. (2015). Family Caregivers for People with Dementia and the Role of Occupational Therapy. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics. 33(3).
- Patricia Schaber. (2010). Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Adults with Alzheimer ’s disease and Related Disorders. The American Occupational Therapy Association.