Dementia care program delivered by an occupational therapist and tailored to the needs of patients and their caregivers shows improved patient quality of life and caregiver well-being.
Due to a lack of medications that slow dementia progression, it is critical to identify the effectiveness of nonpharmacological treatment programs that can lessen clinical symptoms, engage people living with dementia, and support caregiver well-being. This randomized controlled trial evaluated the Tailored Activity Program (TAP), a program delivered by occupational therapists to patients with dementia and their caregivers that seeks to improve outcomes such as agitation or aggression. TAP participants received caregiver instruction on prescribed activities, dementia education, and stress-reducing techniques. The control group only received dementia education and home safety tips.
At three months, the TAP group of patients reported no change in symptoms of agitation/aggression but required less caregiver assistance in instrumental activities of daily living and activities of daily living. Caregivers experienced more confidence using prescribed activities and reported improved well-being. Compared to the control group, TAP care recipients had fewer health-related events over six months, including deaths and hospitalizations. In addition, the TAP caregivers reported participation in the program improved the quality of life for care recipients.
Although TAP did not improve agitation and aggression symptoms, it supported functional independence, lessened deaths and hospitalizations, and improved overall quality of life for people with dementia while also improving caregiver well-being. Programs for people with dementia should incorporate family perspectives to help tailor activities and measures to what is important to the care recipient and caregiver.