Occupational therapy is defined by dictionary.com as a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life. This treatment typically involves meaningful activities that focus on the improvement of everyday functional life skills. The end goal is to improve the overall quality of life by helping people to live more independent and productive lives. While occupational therapy can be structured for all stages of life, over one third of occupational therapists work with seniors that have been injured, have been diagnosed with some illness or are suffering from memory loss.
Getting older comes with lots of physical and cognitive changes. At some point, for many elderly, normal everyday activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, walking, etc. can become a difficult and tiresome task. The decline in ability to partake in tasks such as these often lead to a degree of isolation and avoidance of social gatherings and hobbies that your senior once loved. A large factor in an occupational therapist’s job will be to help patients overcome these struggles along with strengthening basic motor skills, range of motion, and strength needed to accomplish everyday tasks such as getting dressed.
Some benefits and focal points for Occupational Therapy include:
The number one case of injury in the elderly is from falling. An occupational therapist will work with your senior to build strength through exercises focused on balance, functional movement, endurance, coordination, and range of motion. These exercises are tailored to each person’s specific needs. In addition to helping with the physical side of fall prevention, an occupational therapist may also modify environmental factors and daily routines to reduce risk of falls. They often work with caretakers in training on strategies to support these fall prevention initiatives. Another important part of fall prevention in occupational therapy includes overcoming fears your senior may have about falling. Even little improvement in any area of occupational therapy will help to build confidence in your senior that will help conquer fear also.
An occupational therapist not only works with physical improvements but also cognitive improvements. Whether memory loss is a natural part of ageing or caused by an underlying illness such as dementia, an occupational therapist will work with patients to regain memory skills and make coping with memory loss easier. An occupational therapist will evaluate the cognitive abilities of each patient and assess strengths and weaknesses. Each patient’s care plan will be tailored to their specific needs with the goal of maintaining strengths and building up weaknesses. Memory rehabilitation can include memory enhancing activities, learning new things that can be built upon, environment modifications to help with those who wander or get disoriented, training caregivers on how to handle personality changes, and more.
As you age, vision impairment becomes more likely. Vision loss can lead to struggle with everyday activities. An Occupational therapist will work with elderly patients to learn how to navigate and adjust to their loss in vision. This includes things like learning perceptual vision, awareness through other senses, detecting patterns, home modifications such as lighting, tag identifiers, organization, color coded systems, etc. and more.
We’ve touched on this a bit already, but a large factor in an occupational therapist’s job is to equip caregivers on how to successfully keep in motion the strategies that are being implemented. An Occupational Therapist will train caregivers on how to physically and emotionally handle particular situations as they arise. The goal of occupational therapy is for patients to gain some independence which can help take a bit of the load off of the caregiver. The care plan for each patient should work for everyone involved and allow each party to achieve their goals, including the caregiver.
Camelot Senior Living takes a holistic approach to occupational therapy services that promote overall wellness. We investigate underlying issues rather than focusing just on surface symptoms. We can help your loved one feel stronger, more in control, more confident and improve overall quality of life. For more information contact us!