Document Type

Handbook, Guide or Manual

Publication Date



Occupational Therapy and Family Caregiver Training: The Key to Successful Dementia Care, Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, dementia care, family caregiver training



  1. Recognize the important role occupational therapy plays in educating caregivers of people with ADRD.
  2. Describe empirical evidence that informs caregiver training approaches and strategies.
  3. Apply knowledge and skills to practice when working with family caregivers of people with ADRD.


  1. Evidence to support need for family caregiver training
  2. Evidence-based family caregiver training programs
  3. Role of occupational therapy in family caregiver training
  4. Evidence-based family caregiver training programs provided by occupational therapists
  5. Building your occupational therapy dementia care tool kit


Most people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders live in the community and are cared for by family caregivers who have not received formal training. Evidence has shown that caregiving can have profound negative effects on a caregiver’s own physical and psychological health, including increasing social isolation and decreasing quality of life and wellbeing. If the demands of care exceed the caregiver’s capacity, the person with dementia can also be negatively affected. Research supports the effectiveness of teaching caregivers approaches that match the skills and interests of the person with dementia, use appropriate cues, identify and modify behavioral triggers, and use compensatory and environmental strategies. These interventions benefit the well-being of the caregiver and person with dementia, and can delay institutional placement. Occupational therapy practitioners are ideally suited to teach caregiving strategies and promote caregiver wellness and life balance while optimizing function (habilitation) in the person with dementia. Training the caregiver to obtain the just-right fit between the capacities of the person with dementia and the demands of the environment produces positive behaviors and enhanced wellness for the caregiver and the person with dementia. This short course explained why occupational therapy practitioners are distinctly skilled to provide effective caregiver training. Participants achieved a boarder understanding of the underlying theory behind the evidence, and walked away with practical approaches and strategies that they can use in daily practice.

8 page handout.