Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for Dementia from an Occupational Therapist Lens
Occupational therapists are instrumental in the care of people living with dementia. Occupational therapists have a holistic understanding of how cognitive functioning impacts activities of daily living. They can provide cognitive stimulation therapy to help maintain areas of cognition and delay the gradual cognitive decline that occurs with dementia. Because there is no cure for dementia, the success of occupational therapy interventions, including cognitive stimulation therapy, is measured by the maintenance of certain cognitive functions that are expected to decline over time.
What benefits do occupational therapists offer clients with cognitive stimulation therapy?
By providing enjoyable structured activities through cognitive stimulation therapy an occupational therapist can target a person’s individual strengths. Focusing on these attributes may allow a person with cognitive decline to orient themselves in the present or reminisce. Cognitive stimulation is client-centered, adaptable, and helps the client participate in meaningful occupations or activities. Three key outcomes of cognitive stimulation therapy for their clients living with dementia include reduced caregiver burden via encouraging independence of the client, improved social functioning and engagement with others, and reduced impulsive motor behaviors such as getting up out of a chair too quickly. These three benefits help improve the quality of life for both the client and caregiver. As the client may start to function more independently and effectively, it not only reduces the stress on the caregiver but improves a client’s overall self-esteem.
What implications are there of providing cognitive stimulation therapy for occupational therapists?
Since Cognitive stimulation therapy techniques are multi-dimensional client-centered programs they are easily adaptable to telehealth practices. This is particularly important for many people living with dementia may not be able to travel for in-person services. By integrating digital cognitive therapy tools, printable cognitive activities for adults, and telehealth therapy sessions, clients with dementia can access cognitively stimulating materials remotely. Much more evidence is available on the efficacy of remote occupational therapy services, but preliminary studies are showing positive results.
Occupational therapists play a vital role in the quality of life for people living with mild to moderate dementia. Occupational therapists can provide clients with mild to moderate dementia with cognitive stimulation therapy. Cognitive stimulation therapy is a fun and engaging therapy technique that helps clients with dementia reorient themselves in the present as well as afford them the opportunity to reminisce about the past. Cognitive stimulation can be effective for clients with mild to moderate dementia as this therapy can help delay the decline of cognitive functioning that is expected without intervention.
Yuill, N., & Hollis, V. (2011). A systematic review of cognitive stimulation therapy for older adults with mild to moderate dementia: an occupational therapy perspective. Occupational therapy international, 18(4), 163-186.