Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases Podcast for Classrooms

This entry is intended to provide idea-generation and discussion on incorporating new research on dementia and neurodegenerative disease into coursework.

Please note, this is just a starting point. Full compliance with accreditation standards is the responsibility of the academic program.

Submitted by: Melissa Kimmerling
Podcast Title: Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases (#56), Rachel Wiley, MS, OTR/L, CDP
Related Research Article: Depression in neurodegenerative diseases: Common mechanisms and current treatment options - PubMed

ACOTE Standard Mapping: This podcast may help educators address the following ACOTE Standards (2025)- effective July 2025.

  1. B.2.6. Analyze occupational performance aspects that are affected by diagnoses including heritable diseases, genetic conditions, mental illness, disability, trauma, and injury.
  2. B.3.6. Recommend and provide direct interventions and procedures to persons, groups, or populations to enhance safety, health and wellness, chronic condition management, and performance in occupations. This must include the ability to collaborate with the occupational therapy assistant related to interventions and selecting and delivering occupations and activities: • Occupations as a therapeutic intervention • Interventions to support occupations including therapeutic exercise • Interventions to support well-being (e.g., complementary health and integrative health) • Interventions to support self-advocacy related to the person, groups, or populations. • Virtual interventions
  3. B.3.7. Monitor and reevaluate, in collaboration with the client, care partner, and occupational therapy assistant, the effect of occupational therapy intervention and the need for continued or modified intervention.
  4. B.3.21. Demonstrate effective communication with clients, care partners, communities, and members of the intraprofessional and interprofessional teams in a responsive and responsible manner that supports a team approach to promote client outcomes.
  5. B.4.1. Identify, analyze, and evaluate the influence of contextual factors and current federal, state, and local policy issues and structures on the delivery of occupational therapy services for persons, groups, or populations to promote and advocate for policy development and social systems as they relate to the practice of occupational therapy.
  6. B.5.1. Locate, select, and critique quantitative and qualitative research to analyze and evaluate scholarly activities that contribute to the development of a body of knowledge and evidence-based decision making. This includes the: • Level of evidence • Validity of research studies • Strength of the methodology • Relevance to the profession of occupational therapy.

Key takeaways from the podcast

  1. Depression shouldn’t be part of the disease process, and if it is present, it should be recognized and treated appropriately.
  2. Medications traditionally used to treat depression often don’t work or can’t be used for this population.
  3. A depression screen can and should be integrated into screening and evaluation.
  4. Integrate the care partner into the plan of care.

Discussion questions

  1. What surprised you most when listening to this podcast?
  2. What did you hear that supported what we have been discussing in this course?
  3. Did you hear anything that contradicted or challenged information we have reviewed in this course?
  4. What barriers to addressing depression in neurodegenerative diseases are present, and what opportunities to overcome them may exist?
  5. What can you do to increase your ability to address depression in neurodegenerative diseases?

Learning Activities

  • Think-Pair-Share Example
    • Think: Take 5 minutes to make a list of the assessments we have discussed in this course that could be used to identify depression for this population.
    • Pair: Turn to your classmate and discuss your list. What are you missing? Discuss your rationale if your lists differ.
    • Share: Share with the class your thoughts. (Instructor calls on pairs of students).
  • Assignment Idea: Create a one-page handout for care partners related to warning signs of depression and the role of OT to be left in a physician’s office.
  • Journal Article Review: Require students to complete a formal journal article review on the associated article. Listening to the podcast and additional learning activities would support the students’ knowledge translation related to the research content.

Additional support for in-depth exploration

How do clients access this type of intervention?

  • Referral required. Most likely from PCP or neurologist.
  • Paid through traditional payers under CPT code regulations and restrictions.

Documentation Example

Cultural Considerations

  • Limitations of current assessments for non-English speaking clients, etc.

Please share thoughts on how you could use this resource in your classroom!