Occupational therapy helps people at all stages of life, providing them with the needed support when their health prevents them from doing certain activities that are meaningful and necessary. Occupational therapy for seniors can be provided in a 1-on-1 setup or in a group. For elderly persons with more specific needs and conditions, a 1-on-1 setup is what we recommend. Either way, the goal of occupational therapy for seniors remains the same – to help the elderly person develop, maintain, or recover skills that they need for daily activities.
Occupational therapy ensures the well-being of your elderly loved ones. In this article, we talk about the key benefits of occupational therapy. But first, let’s cover some basics.
Is Occupational Therapy the Same as Physical Therapy?
The goal of physical therapy (PT) differs from that of occupational therapy (OT). PT focuses on improving a patient’s movement, mobility, and strength. As the name suggests, these are physical aspects of health. Meanwhile, OT focuses on helping the patient perform daily tasks more easily by refining physical/cognitive skills and/or implementing modifications to the person’s living environment.
Where Does One Avail of Occupational Therapy for Seniors?
Typically, occupational therapists are one of the on-staff healthcare professionals in Assisted Living Communities who help the residents of the facility in maintaining their health and independence. But you may also find occupational therapists outside senior housing facilities like in hospitals or in senior centers.
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s have a closer look at the benefits!
Benefit#1: Overcoming Daily Struggles
It is common for elderly people to experience difficulties in daily tasks that used to be easy to do – like walking, eating, taking a shower, and etc. When small tasks like this become a daily struggle, it can really take a toll on the elderly person’s physical and mental health.
This is why a big part of an occupational therapist’s job is to help elderly people develop the skills they need to make daily tasks more manageable. Therapists can work with elderly patients to help them improve their motor skills, strength, dexterity, and range of motion to address their difficulties. Small, progressive improvements in these skills can make a big difference in the elderly person’s quality of life.
Benefit#2: Prevention of Accidents
In Canada, falls are considered the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization among older persons. Since falls can lead to serious complications and even death, this is truly an important part of an occupational therapist’s job.
Occupational Therapists can teach methods that can prevent falls as well as improving one’s balance, and muscle-building exercises to keep the elderly person’s body strong.
Benefit#3: Better Home Environment
The occupational therapist can be tasked to look at the layout of an elderly person’s home and make recommendations to optimize it for an increased level of ease, safety, and convenience. These optimizations can take the form of strategically placed handrails, wheelchair ramps, anti-slip flooring, and walk-in showers.
Benefit#4: Solutions for Vision Loss
By age 65, 1 in 9 Canadians develops irreversible vision loss. And the probability gets even higher as a person’s age increases. This is why solutions for vision loss are so important. These can tie back to home optimizations that we mentioned in the previous section. Occupational therapists could recommend adding more lighting and contrasting to the home or placing magnifiers in strategic places. Bright stickers on buttons, bright tape on the steps, and large-print labelling on chemicals and medications can also be a tremendous help.
Benefit#5: Cognitive Rehabilitation
Since elderly people tend to suffer from some form of memory impairment, occupational therapists help elderly patients to regain and maintain memory skills.
They can encourage their patients to engage in memory-enhancing activities like crossword puzzles and matching games. Occupational therapists can also work with caregivers and teach them techniques to deal with memory impairments and/or personality changes in elderly patients.
Benefit#6: Coping Skills
As a person ages, health difficulties can be compounded by really tough life transitions which can be overwhelming for anybody to face alone. Occupational therapists can teach coping skills to their elderly patients as they go through tough life transitions like retirement, the loss of a partner, and relocation.
Occupational therapy helps older persons to feel more empowered as each of their difficulties is given due attention and fitting solutions. Not only does this make things easier for them, but it also makes them see just how loved, cared for, and supported they are. With each therapy session, the life of an elderly person gets holistically better.
How Do I Plan Out The Care for My Elderly Loved Ones?
If you have more questions about occupational therapy for seniors or any other aspect of caring for your elderly mom or dad, we would be more than happy to help!
As one of the leading providers of full-service senior living transitions, we at Your Next Steps. will help you find the best living solutions for your elderly loved ones and assist you in every step of the process. Just take the first step to us and we’ll get through all the rest of the steps together. Contact us today!