Growing older brings about a whole host of changes that alter our ability to participate in everyday tasks in the same way that we did in younger years.
For seniors, it can be both emotionally and physically challenging to accept that changes are taking place that inhibit participation in aspects of life that brought about feelings of fulfillment or independence. Seniors grappling with how to adjust and move forward with their new realities can benefit greatly from participating in Occupational Therapy to help them work through challenges and set themselves up to continue to live independent and fulfilling lives for as long as possible.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a form of treatment that aims to help individuals to live full, productive, and independent lives by targeting their ability to perform meaningful activities or ‘occupations’. Occupational Therapy differs from Physical Therapy because OT places focus upon building up the ability to perform daily tasks or activities, while Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on improving physical mobility. The underlying goal that informs Occupational Therapy is to help in the process of building self-reliance by working through physical challenges and making environmental adjustments to allow seniors to continue to participate in the everyday activities that allow for a sense of independence, empowerment, and fulfillment in their lives.
Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Seniors
Each individual seniors’ needs, goals, and challenges differ based on their personal circumstances and situations. Occupational Therapy involves a process of identifying areas of need and working with the Occupational Therapist to work out how best to build up independence. The following are just some examples of the areas of seniors’ lives that Occupational Therapy can target:
- 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.
- Daily Tasks: Occupational Therapy can help seniors to 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 Ottawa. Occupational Therapists may be able to provide 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 During Memory-Loss
Another notable 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 part in assessing changes in seniors’ cognitive abilities and can help to plan arrangements that will help maintain their ability to be independent. As memory-loss progresses, Occupational Therapists can help work out new ways to make activities more simple and manageable to help seniors keep up 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 remain able to participate in all areas of their lives. Connecting with an Occupational Therapist in Ottawa can be truly beneficial for seniors as they adjust to the many changes that growing old brings.