Can occupational therapy prevent the decline of cognitive function in older patients? The answer is “Yes”! Cognitive decline and impairment are complex disorders requiring multi-faceted treatment. The application of occupational therapy has been shown to reduce symptoms, improve outcomes, and sometimes even arrest the development of the dysfunction.

How occupational therapy works

Occupational therapy can improve and enhance cognitive abilities and arrest cognitive decline in a variety of ways.

Occupational therapy increases movement range

Range-of-motion (ROM) exercises help patients relax stiff joints and improve blood circulation. This increases the amount of oxygen to the brain as a result of improved circulation elsewhere in the body.

Nurser providing hospice care to an elderly women

Occupational therapy improves memory

Occupational therapy can include crossword puzzles and other cognitive activities and games. The therapist’s goal is to do as many cognitive exercises as possible with the patient. As a result, the patient learns new skills and relearns previous ones.

Occupational therapy improves vision

Similar to physical therapy, occupational therapy involves exercises for the eyes. These exercises improve the patient’s ability to see movement and other visual phenomena, which further improves the brain’s ability to process information.

Occupational therapy’s benefits

Occupational therapy fulfills a number of roles in the support and maintenance of cognitive function amongst older patients. The American Occupational Therapy Association has created five different categories of therapies designed to improve cognitive function:

  • Global Strategy Learning and Awareness
  • Domain-Specific Strategy Training
  • Cognitive Retraining Embedded in Functional Activity
  • Specific Functional Skills Training
  • Environmental Modifications and Use of Assistive Technology

Causes of loss of cognitive function

The causes of cognitive decline and mild to severe cognitive impairment are as varied as they are plentiful. Increasing age is the primary risk factor. Other factors can increase the chances that we experience cognitive impairment. They may include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Low education level
  • Infrequent participation in mentally or socially stimulating activities
  • Recently undergoing surgery
  • Suffering a physical injury or trauma

Improving cognitive function in a nursing home

At Haym Salomon Home for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn NY, our skilled team of practitioners works with you or your loved ones in all five of these domains. We maintain and enhance memory, attention and arrest cognitive decline.

Our patient’s specific therapy might include learning to use adaptive or assistive technology. Or it may involve learning a new way to think about and strategize their way around a problem. Whatever the specific treatment includes, you can be assured that it will help improve the quality of life of your loved one.

Improvements in cognitive function can have dramatic impacts on the life of you or your loved one. Improved mobility and self-care ability can lead to significant increases in self-confidence and happiness. Occupational therapy, by reducing cognitive decline, can even reduce or eliminate depressive symptoms.

Encouragingly, these improvements can be self-sustaining. We can increase our patients’ abilities to function in a dynamic and social setting and eliminate one of the main risk factors of cognitive decline, simply by having the patient continue to interact with the world and people around them.

Give us a call today

Here at Haym Salomon Home, we strive every day to provide the very best in patient care and attention. If you or your loved one find themselves in need of our services, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or walk in!

We’d love to hear from you!

This content comprises informative and educational resources only and can not be considered as a substitute for professional health or medical guidance. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk. If you have any inquiries or apprehensions about your medical condition or health goals, talk with a licensed physician or healthcare provider.