Daily activities for seniors can become difficult due to normal aging factors (loss of mobility or cognitive ability), but even more so after surgery, illness or injury. Physical therapy helps restore physical function when possible, but occupational therapy (OT) is usually needed, as well.
What is Occupational Therapy?
OT is different than physical therapy and is an important component in supporting a senior in completing day to day activities. Where physical therapy works directly to restore strength and function to the body, OT supports in creating new strategies for completing day-to-day tasks.
For example, an occupational therapist might help a patient recovering from a stroke learn new ways to feed themselves. Or they will be responsible for helping a patient recovering from a knee replacement discover more efficient ways for moving about their home or dressing themselves.
All in all, home health occupational therapists are instrumental in helping seniors remain at home for as long as possible.
Occupational Therapy Activities & Therapies for Seniors
Since the daily activities and current health condition of every senior varies, a great home health OT will work to develop a plan tailored specifically for the person they are currently treating. They will also often work in conjunction with a senior’s physical therapist and doctor to determine best strategies and support moving forward.
OT often uses a holistic approach to therapies, activities and exercises. They will work to address physical, personal, cognitive and even recreational exercises, as well as relaxation techniques or stress management. Each OT plan is unique to the individual and what they currently require.
Here are 6 areas that commonly require home health occupational therapy activities:
- Medication management
- OT assesses current routines and develops strategies to make it easier for seniors to adhere to and remember medication regimens
- Daily management of conditions
- From support in managing a daily diabetes care routine, to working to develop healthy and consistent movement for patients with heart failure or COPD, OT develops plans for individuals with these conditions and more.
- Home safety
- Falls are one of the biggest dangers facing seniors. OT works to assess the home environment to remove or address fall hazards. This can include moving or removing fall risks, rearranging pathways through the house, or working directly with patients to maneuver through their home differently.
- Learning or re-learning bathing and dressing routines
- After long illnesses or surgeries, basic activities can be more difficult or seem impossible. OT helps elderly patients learn or re-learn new ways to accomplish these important daily tasks.
- Providing tools or strategies to assist with mealtimes or cooking
- Maintaining a sense of dignity goes hand in hand with being able to participate as fully as possible in fundamental food routines. An occupational therapist may recommend new tools or silverware to make mealtimes easier and consult with an expert to provide simple and nutritional diet plans that a senior might prepare themselves.
- Identifying current struggles or redundancies that prohibit self-reliance
- Perhaps the individual’s mailbox is located in a hard to reach area, or maybe frequently used items are stored on high shelves or deep cupboards. OT assesses these struggles and develops new plans or strategies so that seniors can safely enjoy their independence for longer.
Is In-Home Occupational Therapy Right for My Loved One?
If your loved one is currently hospitalized due to an illness or surgery, they may start to receive OT services during their stay. But a home health occupational therapist will conduct one or more visits in your loved one’s home once they are discharged. This type of care is often imperative to a senior’s continued independence in their home and should be part of an overall care plan in conjunction with a primary care physician and physical therapist.
You may also want to seek a home health occupational therapist when you notice a decline in general mobility or cognitive function. A home health occupational therapist is skilled at identifying ways to continue to live independently at home, even when typical age-related changes take place.
Home Health OT for Seniors in Akron, Ohio
Our goal is to help seniors enjoy living at home for longer. My Family Home Health Care in Akron, Ohio offers a variety of in-home services including home health occupational therapy. Let My Family take care of your family. Contact us today for an in-home health care assessment.