Researchers had hoped that incorporating home-based occupational therapy into Alzheimer’s disease patients’ primary care might slow down the functional decline that comes with the disease. However, findings from a recent study suggest otherwise.
The 2-year study, published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, included 180 Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, all of whom received “collaborative care,” in which an advanced practice nurse coordinated each patient’s overall care.
Half of the patients received occupational therapy in addition to the collaborative care.
After the 2-year time period, however, the researchers found no evidence that the occupational therapy on top of the collaborative care was able to slow the patients’ functional decline, according to a media release from MedlinePlus.
Dr Christopher Callahan, founding director of Indiana University’s Center for Aging Research—the study’s lead researcher—notes in the release that despite the results, “There is still a role for occupational therapy in helping with specific impairments.”
Adding that the study’s findings highlight the challenges that family caregivers face, Callahan states that “more intensive” efforts will be needed to help caregivers deal with their loved ones’ functional decline. This could mean more extensive home modifications, better assistive devices, and more community services, per the release.