Along with aging comes a diverse array of changes that impact our capacity to take part in everyday tasks in the same way that we did when we were younger.
For seniors, it can be difficult on both an emotional and a physical level to accept that changes are happening that impede participation in aspects of life that were fulfilling and created an empowering sense of independence. Seniors struggling with determining how to adjust and move forward with their new realities can reap great benefits from taking part in Occupational Therapy to help them navigate challenges and set themselves up to continue living independent and fulfilling lives.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a type of therapy that works to support individuals in continuing to live full, productive, and independent lives by addressing their ability to carry out important activities or ‘occupations’. Occupational Therapy is different from Physical Therapy because OT focuses on building up the ability to perform daily tasks or activities, while Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on improving physical mobility. The overarching goal that underpins Occupational Therapy is to help in the process of creating and strengthening self-reliance by working through physical challenges and making environmental adjustments to give seniors the best opportunity to continue to take part in the everyday activities that offer them a sense of independence, empowerment, and fulfillment in their lives.
How Seniors Can Benefit From Occupational Therapy
Every senior has their own unique set of needs, goals, and challenges that differ based on their personal circumstances. Occupational Therapy involves a process of identifying areas of need and working with the Occupational Therapist to determine how best to foster independence. The following are a few examples of the areas of seniors’ lives that Occupational Therapy can target:
- Daily Tasks: Occupational Therapy can help seniors learn to better perform everyday tasks that may have become more challenging with age. Through various strategies, adjustments, and purpose-driven practices, Occupational Therapy can help seniors to continue feeding and dressing themselves, getting themselves from one place to another, taking care of their homes, and participating in social activities.
- Fall Prevention: Falls are among the most prevalent causes of injury for seniors, and Occupational Therapists can help seniors to work out the best tools, practices, and strategies to help seniors prevent or protect themselves from falls. Whether this be through home adjustments or physical practices, Occupational Therapy can help to keep seniors safer in their homes.
- Home Adjustments: Occupational Therapists can help seniors to set up their homes in ways that create a setting that best promotes independence. Occupational Therapists can help seniors and their families to plan home-modifications, small or large in scale, that will help to keep seniors safe and allow them to better carry-out everyday tasks. Some adjustments may include features such as grab-bars in the bathroom or shower, aids for the stairs, beds or seating best for positioning, or other similar features for adjustment and ease.
- Mental Health: Occupational Therapy can have a meaningful impact on the state of mental health that seniors experience. Being able to maintain the greater sense of independence, agency, and empowerment that Occupational Therapy promotes in seniors can create feelings of satisfaction that are incredibly positive for seniors’ mental health. Occupational Therapy can help to lessen levels of anxiety associated with being concerned about one’s ability to perform daily tasks independently, and can help seniors to set and achieve goals and plan activities that bring them joy.
- Mobility: Occupational Therapists can also be involved in the process of identifying need for devices that assist with mobility, such as walkers, scooters, or wheelchairs. Along a similar vein, Occupational Therapists can also help caregivers or family members learn how best to support seniors with their mobility or getting them from place to place.
Participation in Occupational Therapy can also be a part of the process of connecting seniors and their caregivers to other services and supports available to them in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge. Occupational Therapists can often offer information and recommendations for community resources and support groups that seniors may find valuable for making important connections for care and for socialization.
Occupational Therapy Through Memory-Loss
Another important aspect of Occupational Therapy is that it has been shown to be valuable for seniors in the early stages of memory-loss. Occupational Therapists can play a role in assessing changes in seniors’ cognitive abilities and can help to suggest arrangements that will help with the maintenance of their ability to stay independent. As memory-loss progresses, Occupational Therapists can help plan new ways to make activities more manageable to help seniors uphold a fulfilling quality of life.
The things that are important to each senior and their sense of independence are different, but Occupational Therapy can contribute a great deal in the process of helping seniors to still be able to participate in all areas of their lives. Connecting with an Occupational Therapist in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge can be deeply beneficial for seniors as they navigate and adjust to the array of changes that come with growing older.