Occupational therapy is a form of rehabilitation which helps people learn to manage the performance of activities required in their daily lives. This type of therapy is typically performed when people have suffered a physical or mental illness that has impacted their ability to perform routine tasks, but could also be useful for those whose abilities are diminishing as part of the natural aging process. Occupational therapists can be based out of hospitals, medical offices, rehabilitation centers, schools, and even their homes.
Examples of items within the realm of occupational therapy include assisting clients who need to work on their skills with eating, dressing and bathing. Also included are routine development, medication management, social activities, community access, money management, improved driving ability, and use of assistive technologies such as speech to text software.
Occupational therapists can help someone with arthritis learn to move in a way that will protect their joints, assist someone who is losing their range of motion with stretching exercises and adaptive equipment, and aid someone with attaching and removing a prosthetic device. Occupational therapy can also assist a person with low vision in adapting their home environment to avoid light glare, and help someone with memory loss label items in their home so they can find them more easily. Overall, occupational therapists can be key in allowing aging parents to continue to maintain their independence by living on their own.
There are several ways in which an occupational therapist can assist your aging parent to live on their own in a safe manner. First, they can actually evaluate your parent’s home to assess their current level of skills, abilities, and safety, and make recommendations for improvement. This includes evaluating how well your parent can handle daily activities regarding travel, such as visiting the grocery store, going to doctor appointments, or attending social activities.
Next, an occupational therapist can recommend goods and services to make your loved one’s life a little bit easier. Suggestions will include home modifications, such as adding shower grab bars or stair lifts, adding railings, replacing door knobs with lever handles, installing ramps, widening doorways, and more. They will understand these changes may need to be made with limited financial resources, and will make recommendations accordingly. Additionally, they will provide any training needed for your loved one to feel comfortable using their new adaptive equipment. Finally, they can recommend support groups in the community and options for public transportation.