Occupational therapy is a treatment that involves helping people live more independent and productive lives by incorporating meaningful activities to promote participation in everyday life. It is focused on improving life skills which can lead to better quality of life.
Over one-third of occupational therapists work with seniors after they have been affected by illness, memory loss or injury. They are often elder-care advocates, working to help seniors maintain their independence. One of their most important roles is promoting self-reliance among their patients. This means helping them overcome their physical challenges or limitations, enabling them to return to a normal life at home where they may continue activities of daily living (ADLs), including cooking, feeding themselves, dressing and grooming. Occupational therapy for seniors takes a somewhat unique stance by focusing on what the person can do.
Occupational therapy is also key during the early stages of memory loss. Therapists are trained to assess a patient’s cognitive ability and use behavioral modification to help address change in their personalities. Occupational therapists can also help adapt a patient’s home for safety, allowing them to maximize their remaining skills to help them maintain their independence. They also educate the family caregivers and connect them with support groups or respite care such as that provided by American Senior Communities for the emotional assistance they may need. In later stages of memory loss, the therapist can focus on simplifying activities or providing sensory stimulation like soothing music to help improve quality of life.
The Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Seniors
1) Overcoming daily life challenges. Occupational therapy helps seniors compensate for some of the challenges they face each day, whether it be dressing, feeding themselves, home management or participation in social activities.
2) Preventing falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors, and occupational therapists can help them to problem-solve the best way to stay active while avoiding falls.
3) Home environmental modifications. Occupational therapists can help seniors acquire devices like a bathtub bench or grab bars to make their lives easier. Seniors can learn how they can optimize their homes to promote full participation in activities of daily life.
4) Better health and wellness. Occupational therapy can have a positive influence on mental health and life satisfaction. Therapists provide a unique educational approach to help seniors redesign their lives to experience greater quality of life, promote longevity and a healthier lifestyle all around.
5) Working with caregivers. Occupational therapists can assess a family’s loved one to help the caregiver make better decisions about their loved one’s daily care needs. They alleviate some of the pressure a caregiver might feel when helping their loved one, which will allow them to separate themselves from core care-giving and maintain their own life.
Occupational therapy, while beneficial to those of all ages, is especially helpful to seniors who are regularly faced with physical, mental or psychological challenges. Therapists collaborate with both the senior and their caregivers to ensure a plan is set that works for everyone and allows all involved to reach their own individual goals.