Patients with physical injuries or impairments can turn to physical therapy or rehabilitation to help them improve or regain physical functioning. But according to Linda Clare, Professor of Clinical Psychology of Aging and Dementia at the University of Exeter, cognitive rehabilitation can be just as important for dementia and cognitive impairment.
While we have come a long way in recognizing the rights of people with physical disabilities, we have not caught up in terms of providing the same level of care and services to those with hidden disabilities such as dementia. Professor Clare believes that shifting the perception of dementia from a social impairment to a disability that can be addressed through rehabilitation will help lift some of the stigma that continues to surround dementia.
Cognitive rehabilitation can help extend the independence and active functioning of those with dementia through targeting activities such as self-care, communication skills, and social interactions. The goals of rehabilitation can be customized for each individual and adjusted over time as a patient’s needs change.
Understanding how cognitive rehabilitation can improve a patient’s engagement with life supports the patient’s independence which also relieves some burdens on caregivers and helps to change public attitudes about how we can provide more supportive and dementia-friendly environments.
The complete article on this subject can be found in PLOS Medicine 2017: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002245