Aging in Place with the help of an Occupational Therapist

 

Most of us want to stay home as we age and we want to do it comfortably.  The services of an occupational therapist (OT) can help!

What Is Occupational Therapy?... Technically, it is defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association executive board (1976) as:

"The therapeutic use of work, self-care, and play activities to increase development and prevent disability. It may include adaptation of task or environment to achieve maximum independence and to enhance the quality of life."

Occupational therapists are concerned about how health conditions can impact your ability to participate in activities of daily living (ADL’s). Because of that, an OT might ask:

  • Does arthritis make certain activities painful or difficult for you?
  • Has low vision forced you to give up or minimize certain detail work?
  • Are you experiencing balance issues or shortness of breath when climbing the stairs?
  • Are you avoiding any activities that you used to do because they're difficult or you're worried about safety?

Your OT may ask you to perform certain tasks in order to determine the nature of the difficulty you're experiencing. From this information they will make recommendations about how you can adapt your environment so you can safely, comfortably and successfully do the things you want to do in and around your home.  An OT might recommend that you:

  • Add grab bars, a handheld shower and a tub bench in order to increase safety in bathing.
  • Create raised flowerbeds for better access when gardening.
  • Install more task lighting in the kitchen so you can more easily read a recipe and see what you're cooking.

These are only a few of the ways an OT can help seniors safely age in place.  To find an OT ask your doctor or geriatric care manager for a recommendation.  You can also go to the website for the American Occupational Therapy Association at www.aota.org .  Happy Living!

Published on April 26, 2012.