HealthDay News — Home-based occupational therapy may not slow down the physical decline that comes with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Christopher Callahan, MD, founding director of Indiana University’s Center for Aging Research in Indianapolis, and colleagues recruited 180 Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. All were given collaborative care, whereby an advanced practice nurse coordinated each patient’s overall care. Families were randomly assigned to receive occupational therapy in addition to collaborative care.

After 2 years, the researchers found there was no evidence that the extra therapy had slowed patients’ functional decline.

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“We could not definitively demonstrate whether the addition of two years of in-home occupational therapy to a collaborative care management model slowed the rate of functional decline among persons with Alzheimer’s disease,” the authors wrote. “This trial underscores the burden undertaken by caregivers as they provide care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and the difficulty in slowing functional decline.”


Callahan CM, Boustani MA, Schmid AA, et al. Targeting Functional Decline in Alzheimer Disease: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2016; doi:10.7326/M16-0830.