Occupational Therapy can assist older adults to maintain their independence longer
Occupational Therapists (OTs) are qualified health care professionals with the skills to identify and address client difficulties in a holistic way. What that means, is that occupational therapists have the skills to assess and identify not only physical issues, but also cognitive and emotional challenges and provide evidence based interventions addressing all aspects of a client’s life.
According the Statistics Canada reported an increase in the aging population due in part to baby boomers getting older and also to longer life expectancy. In addition, Canada’s health care system was not built to meet the challenges of our aging population. Canada’s Medicare system was established to deal largely with acute, episodic care for a relatively young population. Today our system struggles to properly care for patients — many of whom are elderly — managing complex and ongoing health issues. Approximately 75-80% of Canadian seniors report having one or more chronic condition
Occupational Therapists have all the necessary skills to assist seniors in staying independent longer, but to also increase their quality of life. Occupational Therapists are able to modify seniors environments to allow for safe, ergonomic independent function.
How Occupational Therapists assist seniors in staying independent longer
Mary lives in a small apartment, however she is having difficulties getting out of bed, pitting on her favourite shoes and getting in/out of her shower. An OT was able to make a home visit and provide Mary with equipment that allowed her to be independent with bed mobility, dressing and showering.
How Occupational Therapists Help With Mobility
Occupational Therapist are able to assess mobility and provide appropriate equipment to allow for safe participation of daily activities.
John lives in an independent living facility. However, he reported to have difficulty with walking around his apartment, going for his daily walks and going to Starbucks to see his friends. An occupational therapist assessed John’s strength and mobility. The OT prescribed an appropriate four wheeled walker as well as personalized monitored walking program. In addition an OT assessed and recommended a scooter for John so he is able to access his community and see his friends at Starbucks.
John’s friend Luke also asked for an OT, although he already had a walker. An occupational therapist was able to prescribe Luke with a better fitting more appropriate walker and provide him with resources to access fall prevention programs in his community as well as connect him with a fall alert system. An occupational therapist also educated and monitored an individualized exercise program Luke could do to strengthen his muscles to prevent falls.
How Occupational Therapists Help With Cognition
Occupational Therapists have the capacity to provide cognitive remediation as well as compensatory strategies for older adults struggling with memory deficits.
Jane lives in an independent living facility, who reports forgetting her community appointments. An Occupational Therapist was able to assess Jane’s cognition and design a cognitive remediation program to specifically address her needs. In addition an occupational therapist provided Jane with strategies to build routine as well as use memory aids. The occupational therapist also provided these strategies to the staff at the care home, so that Jane’s caregivers have the best tools to assist Jane.