Occupational Therapy MonthOccupational Therapy Month

In celebration of April being Occupational Therapy Month, we’re sharing an overview of what occupational therapy is and how it can help seniors maintain health, independence, and quality of life for longer.

With a name like “occupational therapy,” you may think that this type of medical care and treatment is somehow related to employment. In reality, however, occupational therapy is an important professional line of health care focused on helping people continue or relearn common Activities of Daily Life (ADLs).

Occupational therapy is often paired with physical therapy after a senior experiences an injury or has surgery. While a physical therapist focuses on getting full strength and flexibility back into the injured body part, the occupational therapist focuses on ensuring that the patient is able to perform all the regular activities in his or her life without impairment after the injury.

For example, a physical therapist may treat an arm after surgery to ensure that the patient has full range of motion and dexterity, while an occupational therapist would help the patient relearn how to perform specific tasks with the repaired body part, such as opening a jar of pickles, folding clothes, or getting in and out of the bathtub.

With so many options for senior care later in life, the chances are very good that a person will come in contact with an occupational therapist as he or she ages. They work in rehabilitation facilities, helping post-operation patients feel comfortable enough with daily tasks to return to their regular living situations.

Occupational therapists can also act as consultants, coming to a person’s home to advise on how to make daily activities easier or more accessible, based on the senior’s specific health care needs. They can also provide at-home exercises and equipment to help a senior remain as long as possible in his or her home. Today’s technology offers many options for making life at home easier and safer for seniors, with gadgets ranging from simple tools to help you lift your mattress corner when making the bed, to counter-top cutting board modifications that help you cut and prepare your food, even one-handed.

It’s important to remember that occupational therapy can also be very beneficial for seniors who are currently healthy and without injury. Learning to make modifications to habits and lifestyle during the aging process can help a senior maintain his or her independence for a longer period of time, while also aiding in satisfaction and helping them maintain good health and quality of life. For example, learning alternate ways to navigate through the house when glaucoma begins to impair vision can help a senior feel more confident and comfortable in his or her own home.

Occupational therapists can offer so much to seniors wanting to maintain their heath and independence. For more information, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website.

Megan Hammons lives in the Central Texas countryside just outside of Austin, pursuing her love for copywriting after a career in high-tech marketing. She is part of a large, diverse family and enjoys spending time with the multiple generations living in her community.

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