Whether they are recovering from an injury, recuperating after surgery or just in need of help with mobility, there are many ways seniors can benefit from occupational therapy, which can improve their health and slow age-related decline, while helping them feel better.
“We all have an innate drive to do things – and that is there even when people are older,” Karin Tancock of the College of Occupational Therapists in the UK told the Guardian in 2015. “We find out how a person wants to live and what we can do to help them.”
Here are 7 benefits of occupational therapy for aging adults that can help you or the senior citizens in your family:
1. Brain boosting activities
The benefits of occupational therapy have been known for centuries. The ancient Roman doctor and philosopher Celus prescribed music, travel and conversation to his patients to keep their minds active.
Research has shown that brain training exercises can delay the effects of age-related mental decline, and occupational therapists are adept at coming up with activities that can restore brain power.
2. Fall prevention
Falls are the number one cause of injury for senior citizens in this country, affecting more than a quarter of older Americans every year.
Occupational therapy for aging can teach you or your loved one to become more aware of fall risks at home, and how to avoid situations that might cause a fall. You can also learn muscle-building and balance exercises designed to help prevent falling.
3. Home safety
An occupational therapist can work with you to spot ways to make your home safer, such as stair lifts, platform lifts, grab bars and handrails. Working with a therapist can help seniors change their lives in a way that promotes longer living and a healthier lifestyle.
4. Guidance for dementia patients
When someone can no longer communicate due to dementia, occupational therapists can provide recommendations to improve their quality of life. This can include foods with a pleasing texture, music that can provide relaxation, and stretching activities to relieve pain.
5. Easier time behind the wheel
As the senior citizen population grows, so does the number of senior drivers. Older drivers are often the safest motorists on the road, as they’re less likely to speed or drive while under the influence, and more likely to wear seatbelts. However, seniors have more fragile bodies, which makes it more likely they’ll be seriously injured or killed in a crash.
The American Occupational Therapy Association, working with AAA and AARP, has developed a program called CarFit which addresses seniors’ cognitive skills and helps older drivers adjust their cars according to their needs.
6. Everyday life
Getting older can feel exhausting, but an occupational therapist can help ease the burden by teaching seniors innovative ways to get dressed, feed themselves, keep their house or even do work. They’ll take into account common issues such as arthritis and chronic pain and help come up with ways to tackle these issues and still lead an active life.
7. Aging in place
Getting older can mean a loss of independence. Occupational therapy for aging adults can offer lessons in how to age in place through the help of family members and senior services.
At Pennsylvania Stair Lifts, we’ve made it our mission to help senior citizens age in place by providing home modifications such as stair lifts and platform lifts to allow you or your loved ones to stay in the home longer. Contact us today to learn how we can help you or your family.