Background: Cure of dementia is not possible, but quality of life of patients and caregivers can be improved. Our aim is to investigate effects of community occupational therapy on dementia patients' and caregivers' quality of life, mood, and health status and caregivers' sense of control over life.
Methods: Community-dwelling patients aged 65 years or older, with mild-to-moderate dementia, and their informal caregivers (n = 135 couples of patients with their caregivers) were randomly assigned to 10 sessions of occupational therapy over 5 weeks or no intervention. Cognitive and behavioral interventions were used to train patients in the use of aids to compensate for cognitive decline and caregivers in coping behaviors and supervision. Outcomes, measured at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks, were patients' and caregivers' quality of life (Dementia Quality of Life Instrument, Dqol), patients' mood (Cornell Scale for Depression, CSD), caregivers' mood (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, CES-D), patients' and caregivers' health status (General Health Questionnaire, GHQ-12), and caregivers' sense of control over life (Mastery Scale).
Results: Improvement on patients' Dqol overall (0.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.6-.1, effect size 1.3) and caregivers' Dqol overall (0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-.9, effect size 1.2) was significantly better in the intervention group as compared to controls. Scores on other outcome measures also improved significantly. This improvement was still significant at 12 weeks.
Conclusion: Community occupational therapy should be advocated both for dementia patients and their caregivers, because it improves their mood, quality of life, and health status and caregivers' sense of control over life. Effects were still present at follow-up.