People with Alzheimer's disease can lose motor, cognitive, and speaking skills. Because of this, they face challenges when performing their activities of daily living such as grooming, eating, bathing, and dressing. Here are some ways that speech and occupational therapy can help your loved one cope with their challenges while residing in an Alzheimer's care center.
People who have Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia often have language and speech pattern defects. This can result in the inability to express themselves, frustration, and even problems with swallowing. Those with late-stage Alzheimer's disease may be at a higher risk for choking than those with early-stage disease.
If your loved one has late-stage Alzheimer's disease, they may be unable to cognitively process how to chew food correctly or swallow. The speech therapist can teach the individual certain exercises such as the chin tuck maneuver to help facilitate swallowing, which can reduce the risk for choking and aspiration.
If the speech therapist suspects that the Alzheimer's patient is at high risk for choking, a swallowing evaluation may be recommended. If the swallowing evaluation reveals abnormalities, mechanical alterations of the individual's food may be recommended. A pureed, chopped, or soft diet may be recommended to lower the risk for choking in those with chewing or swallowing challenges.
Your loved one with Alzheimer's may face challenges with their activities of daily living, otherwise known as ADLs. If the individual is not able to get dressed independently or if they face other challenges with bathing, grooming, or eating, occupational therapy may be beneficial. The occupational therapist can work with your loved one to help restore strength in the arms and hands so that eating, brushing the teeth, and combing the hair may be easier.
Occupational therapy can also help dementia patients who have bladder and bowel control problems. The occupational therapist can develop an incontinence training program, which may include exercises to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. The therapist will also work with the staff at the Alzheimer's care center to make sure that they bring the patient to the bathroom every couple of hours, before and after meals, and as needed. This will help prevent incontinent accidents, which will help preserve your loved one's self-esteem.
If your loved one resides in an Alzheimer's care center, talk to the nursing supervisor about how speech and occupational therapy services can help improve the individual's condition. When you know as much as you can about your loved one's therapeutic treatments, you may be better at making informed decisions on behalf of their care.