Home therapy effective for people with dementia

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In a new study, researchers found that receiving occupational therapy at home is effective for people living with dementia.

They found occupational therapy at home may improve a range of important outcomes for people with dementia and their family or care partners.

The research was led by a team at the University of Queensland.

Almost half a million Australians are currently living with dementia, with this number estimated to reach one million within the next 40 years.

Many of these people and their families will need support to manage the changes that occur and to continue to participate in things that are important to them.

According to the team, occupational therapy aims to enable people to participate in the things they need to do, like having a shower or cleaning the house, or things they want to do, such as going out to dinner or doing some gardening.

Occupational therapists help people with dementia and their carers find new ways of doing things, which allows them to still do activities they enjoy, to make changes to the environment which facilitate their participation, and by reducing the stresses they might be experiencing.

Many people are not aware of what occupational therapy is, or the difference it can make in the lives of those living with dementia and their families.

The team analyzed results from 15 studies worldwide that tested the effects of occupational therapy provided for people with dementia and their families living at home.

They found a range of benefits, including improvements in the ability to carry out daily activities and reduction in the occurrence of behavior changes, such as agitation or repetitive questioning that are common in dementia and often a result of unmet needs.

They also found improvements in quality of life for both the person with dementia and the carer.

The findings add new information to that contained in the Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines and Principles of Care for People with Dementia and provides important information about non-pharmacological approaches that referring health professionals should be aware of.

One author of the study is Associate Professor Sally Bennett from the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The study is published in the BMJ Open.

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