Occupational Therapy: Benefits for Older Adults

April is Occupational Therapy month. It’s a great time to recognize the vital role this field plays in helping people across their lifespan. Whether it is injury, illness, disability or old age, occupational therapists enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest.

Using a holistic approach, occupational therapists focus on environmental adaptation with the individual person being an integral part of the therapy team. Occupational therapists work to ensure individuals experience a quality of life that is aligned with their potential.

Occupational Therapy and Older Adults

Over one-third of occupational therapists work with older adults whose lifestyle has been affected by illness, injury or memory loss. Their goal is to help older adults maintain their independence by assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, grooming, feeding themselves and cooking. An occupational therapist can also help older adults during the early stages of memory loss by assessing cognitive ability and using behavioral modification to help address changes in personality.

How older adults benefit from occupational therapy:

Preventing falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. Occupational therapists can help older adults avoid falls by teaching them to fall avoidance skills.

Home environmental modifications. Occupational therapists can provide guidance on home modifications to keep older adults safe. A bench in the bathtub or grab bars in the shower are a few examples.

Working with caregivers and home care agencies. Occupational therapists often work with a family’s loved one or a home care agency like Smithlife Homecare to ensure daily care is administered adequately. This team approach can remove some of the pressure a caregiver might feel when helping their loved one.

The Case for Occupational Therapy

Studies have shown that occupational therapy can impact mental health and life satisfaction positively. Therapists provide a unique educational approach to help seniors redesign their lives to experience a higher quality of life, promote longevity and a healthier lifestyle all around.

The University of Southern California Well Elderly Study and its follow-up (Clark et al., 1997, 2012) demonstrated that occupational therapy improves health and slows aging-related declines for older adults. This was particularly the case for helping older adults live in their communities more effectively. As such, occupational therapy might include exploring community resources for volunteering and leisure and social activities that increase mobility and eliminate the fear of falling. This goal is aligned with Montgomery County’s focus on improving the quality of life for older adults.

“Compassion for others and dedication to providing the best care are core values of Occupational Therapy, which together guide our practice so that we can help our clients/patients begin or return to living life to its fullest”, states Karen Battle. Battle is our Rehab Coordinator, Outpatient Housing who is dedicated to her work and the occupational therapy field.

If you or a loved one is being cared for at home by an occupational therapy team, Smithlife Homecare can help with managing daily activities and even “rehab homework”.  Call 301-816-5020 to learn more.