What Can Occupational Therapy Really Do?
Do you have a parent who is struggling to complete daily tasks on their own? Maybe you have tried to help them, but your strategies just don’t seem to be effective? One of the toughest parts of the aging process is losing the ability to do things that once were incredibly simple. When people lose the ability to complete everyday tasks, they tend to feel confused, frustrated, and sometimes even embarrassed. Luckily, your parent does not have to feel this way. There are ways you can help your elderly parent gain more control over their life.
What we are referring to is occupational therapy. By enrolling your parent in an occupational therapy program, they’ll be given the opportunity to gain some of their independence back. But, how does occupational therapy for the elderly work? What exactly are the benefits? Occupational therapy is a process that involves helping people at all stages of life (from toddlers to elderly) develop, maintain, or recover the skills they need to daily activities (aka occupations) that are meaningful and necessary. The type of occupational therapy a person receives will vary greatly on their needs. For example, an elderly person with Parkinson’s will receive a different treatment than a young child with Scoliosis. Occupational therapists also educate and work with the patient’s support team (parents, caregivers, teachers, etc.) to make sure everyone understands their role in relation to the patient’s care program.
So, what can an occupational therapist do to help an aging patient? Let’s take a look.
- Overcome the Struggles of Everyday Life—For many elderly, normal tasks such as walking, bathing, eating, dressing, etc. can be exhausting. When they can’t perform these basic daily tasks, they are often less inclined to attempt to participate in other aspects of life such as social gatherings, family outings, and hobbies. OT can play an important role by teaching them exercise and rehab techniques that make completing daily tasks easier. They can help improve their fine and basic motor skills, strength, dexterity, and range of motion.
- Prevent Falls – 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 falls each year. While falls may seem like a minor issue, it can be very dangerous for an elderly person. OT helps teach patients various methods to improve their balance and muscle-building abilities to help keep their bodies strong and alert.
- Memory Rehabilitation—OTs can engage patients in memory-enhancing activities such as puzzles. They may place a stop sign at the front door or gate to aid a dementia patient who may wander or get confused. OT also works with caregivers on ways to not further their confusion such as placing out a limited number of clothing options each day.
- Home Modifications -Many elderly people live in a home that may not be suitable anymore. There are more risk factors such as steps, slippery floors, bathtubs, etc. OT can assess a layout and make recommendations for modifying it. These could include; walk-in showers, handrails and grab bars, wheelchair ramp, power lift recliners, medical alert system, etc. They also focus on teaching the patient and family how to use these properly and safely to prevent injury.
- Help Improve Vision—OTs can conduct activities to help improve perceptual vision, pattern detection, and overall vision awareness. They may suggest simple changes such as; removing clutter that may be trip hazard, use color-coded tags to help identify objects, placing magnifiers in the home, adding more lights, labeling medication with large print, placing bright stickers on important buttons like the microwave or laundry machines.
Occupational Therapy for elderly patients offers a lot of benefits. Stay Well Home Health has qualified and experienced OTs who are here are ready to care for your loved ones. If you’d like to learn more give us a call or visit our website today!