At last, you’ve seen the neurologist. You’ve finally taken that big step to get some answers. The long awaited diagnosis has come, or at least other diagnoses have been ruled out. You leave the neurologist’s office with a prescription or two, and some vague advice about eating better and exercising more. But once you get home, you’re still not really sure what to do or what to expect, or how to implement those vague recommendations with a cohesive plan.
This is where an occupational therapist can really help- at least one who is experienced in the field of neurological conditions and dementia. OT’s are specially trained to analyze tasks, set goals, and create actionable plans to create success, or at the very least, prevent or slow decline.
Other professionals can do this too- health coaches, physical therapists, and personal trainers. But make sure to find one with the neurological know-how to understand the nuances of brain health and chronic disease. There is no one size fits all approach to neurological wellness.
Some things to look for:
- A comprehensive assessment beyond paper and pencil- one that looks at function, behavior, and personal histories and challenges
- Someone who can easily build rapport and establish a relationship of trust
- An approach to brain health that goes beyond cognition; physical fitness, nutrition, psychosocial wellbeing
- A partner for the long haul- you want a team member who will go the distance with you
The bottom line is that your doctor is good at a few things when it comes to dementia and neurological conditions, those things being the big picture stuff. Your doctor will most likely manage your complaints with testing and medications, which is a valuable piece of the puzzle. But as they say, the devil is in the details… of everyday life.
Search for a professional who will go to the home, evaluate it for safety and optimize it for function. Then let that professional help you with the daily grind- the pain points, the dysfunctional points, and the ones with the potential to both improve and decline. Then, together, create a plan and realize that it may need to change from time to time… and that’s ok.
It’s easier to pivot than to start and stop.