Occupational therapy, as we know it today, began in the late 1800s, when arts and crafts therapists were used to help patients with physical and mental illnesses.
What is Senior Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a method of helping people lead independent and productive lives by allowing them to recover or develop skills needed to complete daily tasks. While occupational therapy can be utilized by those of any age, it has been known to be quite beneficial for seniors who feel as if they are no longer able to meet day-to-day challenges, both physically and mentally.
Occupational therapists will first work to understand an individual’s specific needs, by talking with the client, his or her family members, friends, and primary doctor/physician. They also take into account medical history, eating/sleeping patterns, and any other behavioral patterns that can help form a thorough assessment. From there, they will develop a plan comprised of specific recommendations and techniques conducive to meeting his or her goals.
The Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Seniors
Many seniors receive occupational therapy as a way to help perform “occupations” or activities of daily living (ADLs) – which can include everything from bathing and toileting to getting dressed in the morning. As we age, certain conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, can make performing these activities much more difficult. Thus, the goal is to help seniors learn to move and function and overcome physical challenges, in spite of diminished range-of-motion and mobility. That being said, occupational therapy is not limited to just improving physical functionality. Therapists can use a variety of techniques to help improve memory and cognitive ability, as well.
Below are some of the ways in which an occupational therapist can help your aging loved one.
- Overcoming daily challenges: There are certain routine activities that younger people may take for granted, but for older adults, seemingly simple tasks may feel monumental. Physical barriers, from certain conditions, can add to the overall stress a senior may feel. Therapists will work to form specific strategies that allow seniors to do the things they used to do or want to do, either by helping them overcome these limitations or by finding alternatives.
- Modifying the home: Some ADLs simply can’t be completed without some form of environmental assistance. Therapists may recommend that improvements or modifications be made in the home, whether it’s the installation of railings, mats, grip bars – or any other assistive devices designed to help improve balance and stability – or modified utensils that can make eating easier. This can make a significant difference for those that may be suffering from arthritis or Parkinson’s. The benefit of a therapist helping to modify the home is really twofold: on one hand, it helps improve functionality, and on the other, it enhances the safety of the overall environment.
- Improving mental wellbeing: As mentioned, occupational therapy does not revolve solely around improving physical wellbeing. If they’ve received referrals from doctors or other health care professionals to help reduce stress or anxiety, occupational therapists can incorporate relaxation exercises and techniques into a senior’s routine. Similarly, they can utilize various activities to help improve cognition, with crossword puzzles or memory games.
- Promoting independence: Therapists are instructed to help improve quality of life, not just within a short span of time, but for a lifetime – and that begins with taking into account what challenges a senior wishes to overcome, day in and day out. The key with occupational therapy is that it represents a way of educating and showing the steps an individual can take on their own to continue meeting their goals and completing ADLs.
How Comfort Keepers® Can Help Canada’s Seniors
The goals of occupational therapy – improving quality of life and promoting independence – coincide with that of Comfort Keepers®. Occupational therapists can provide direct communication to our team, informing them of changes in a client’s behavior or specific needs. From there, our caregivers can reinforce prescribed techniques and strategies designed to help a senior meet his or her goals and maintain independence. Contact us today to discover all of the services we provide.
- SeniorsMatter. “Occupational Therapists for Seniors” by Alison McIntosh. Web. 2017.
- LiveStrong. “OT Exercises for Seniors” by Ashely Miller. Web. 2014.
- TopOccupationalTherapySchool. “Occupational Therapy for Seniors – What are the Key Benefits?” Web. 2016.
- LiveScience. “What is Occupational Therapy?” by Stephanie Pappas. Web. 2014.