Date of Award
Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Bernard Muriithi PhD, OTR/L
Dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive impairments in memory, language, executive function, which may affect behavior and personality. Globally, about 50 million people have dementia, and that number is expected to reach 150 million by the year 2050 (Fortinsky et al., 2020). Dementia is a progressive disease that affects an individual’s ability to perform their daily occupations. The progression of dementia stages can be classified as early/mild, middle/moderate, and late/severe. Alzheimer’s disease makes up 60-80% of all dementia cases, although there are various other types of dementia, including Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy Body dementia, Vascular dementia, and Parkinson’s disease dementia to name a few (Alzheimer’s Association, 2021a). The progression, severity, and symptoms of dementia may vary from person to person, though typically an individual can expect to live 8 to 12 years after their initial diagnosis (Zimmerman et al., 2013).
Family members and friends typically take on the caregiver role, although, as the care recipient's needs increase, they may not know how to adequately care for their loved one or may not be well equipped to care for someone with dementia (Fortinsky et al., 2020; Gitlin et al., 2010; Rahja et al., 2020). As an individual with dementia experiences a progressive decline in health and function, caregivers are required to provide greater levels of care. Without the necessary support and resources, caregivers may experience higher levels of stress and caregiver burden; consequently, resulting in poor outcomes such as long-term care placement (Gitlin et al., 2010). Thus, it is important to support caregivers by providing the necessary education and resources to improve their ability to care for their loved ones with dementia. Because most individuals with dementia live in the community, promoting independence and engagement in 6 activities is especially important as it may promote aging in place and remaining in the community (Fortinsky et al., 2020; Gitlin et al., 2010; Rahja et al., 2020).
Occupational therapy (OT) can help promote independence and participation during occupations, throughout the disease process. Regardless of a person’s condition, client-centered care should be provided to improve engagement in activities and independence. Supporting caregivers by giving them resources to facilitate occupational engagement by modifying the environment, tasks, and communication will allow the person to continue participating in the meaningful activities and foster positive outcomes for the individual with dementia and their caregiver(s). Therefore, the current program at Oakwood Creative Care (OCC), was aimed to develop a resource to provide caregivers and community members with evidence-based recommendations on how to optimize occupational engagement in adults with dementia.
Rosas Ojeda, Maria Del Carmen, "Developing a Resource for Optimizing Occupational Engagement in Adults with Dementia" (2022). OT Student Capstones. 12.