Alzheimer's DementiaOccupational Therapy

Using occupational therapy to treat mild-to-moderate dementia

Occupational therapy (OT) reportedly helped a group of 135 patients with mild-to-moderate dementia (averaging 78 years old) to perform daily activities.

Half received 10 home-based sessions of OT from an experienced occupational therapist over five weeks. The rest received no OT.

  • Evaluations at 6 weeks and 3 months showed that those getting OT functioned significantly better in daily life than those who did not.
  • 75% of those in the OT group showed improvement in process skills.
  • 82% needed less assistance in day-to-day tasks.

An added benefit — primary caregivers who received training in coping behaviors and supervision felt significantly more competent than those who did not.

Once an older person is diagnosed with dementia, it’s the beginning of a downhill course that eventually leads to a loss of their independence. For the time that’s left, these results suggest that OT might improve quality of life for the patient and the caregiver.

11/25/06 20:53 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.