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How Occupational Therapy Can Help Seniors Live Independently?

Seniors living an independent life

The difficulties that seniors face in everyday living

It is the inevitable truth of existence – we must all age. There is a large variety of problems associated with the passage of time. Aging, in itself as a process, comes with a range of its own considerations. Mostly, the elderly face problems in everyday living that many take for granted. If you have ever lived with seniors, you must know that. However, there is support and help out there to improve senior living.

A lot of the body’s physical capabilities start deteriorating with old age. Climbing a flight of stairs or walking to the nearby store can become not just difficult, but impossible. This makes them dependent on their children or their caregivers. They cannot be left alone at home because it becomes difficult for them to help themselves properly or ask for help in due time.

Allow us to share the case of Gina and her mother Stephanie. Gina lives alone with sixty-seven-year-old Stephanie. Stephanie is able to look after herself and is very active for her age. So much so that Gina could leave her alone when she was away for work. Gina often had to travel for work, which meant leaving Stephanie alone for a few days. Once when Gina was out for some grocery shopping, Stephanie slipped on some water near the kitchen and sustained some injury. Gina returned home early, fortunately, so she was able to get Stephanie to a clinic in time.

Thankfully, Stephanie only had a few bruises and she was all right after a couple of weeks of treatment. However, Gina never felt comfortable leaving her mother alone for great lengths of time. We have come across many cases at Pillars of Wellness in Burlington. Once the factor of fear has arrived, it becomes difficult to look past it.

This is where occupational therapy comes in and do a home assessment.

What is occupational therapy?

People often confuse occupational therapy and physiotherapy. However, they are very different. Physiotherapy focuses on easing movement or pain. This could be after an injury, or just to help with better movement. Occupational therapy focuses more on helping people through the tasks to be undertaken on a regular day. It is more specific as a therapy, allowing people to go through activities of daily living (ADLs) without needing assistance.

Occupational therapy includes helping seniors or people with disabilities live a good, full life. The idea is that people should not view life from the sidelines because of age or disabilities. With proper therapy and learning techniques, these people can also live independently and without assistance. Occupational therapy can help people with their grooming, cooking, walking, and other activities of life. A lot of these are things people take for granted. As mentioned above, those mundane tasks can definitely increase the quality of life of a senior living.

How can occupational therapy assist senior living?

According to this report, falls are the most common cause of injury in Canada. In this statistic, it can be seen that a majority of these falls are either suffered by the elderly, or adolescents. Like in Gina’s case, some of these are unpredictable. Some seniors have bone diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis. They often need support in walking and climbing. This also contributes to falls and other injuries in the elderly.

Those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia can also benefit from occupational therapy. Memory loss can be very discomfiting. In bad cases, it can affect your very ability to take care of yourself. With occupational therapy, they can learn to create cues for understanding. These two diseases also have some prevalence in Canada. You can get more detailed information on the facts and figures involved. Look at these highlights from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System.

Here are some of the ways that an occupational therapist can assist seniors:

  • Our Burlington Occupational therapist can assist seniors with the struggles of daily living. Sometimes even the little acts of daily living can become difficult for the elderly. Activities like dressing themselves, bathing and other grooming activities can feel like a chore. For those with dementia and memory loss, there is the added layer of psychological deterioration that follows.
  • Redesigning their homes and lifestyles. Occupational therapy is an in-depth analysis of the senior’s lifestyle. They make sure to understand the rhythms of their daily lives. Then the occupational therapist works around this to wake their lives less accident-prone. This includes redesigning their homes in order to make them more’ senior-friendly’. With expert occupational therapy, all of this is done with very less intrusion. For example, a senior with a wheelchair might have modifications made to their house. These are done in order to make the house more accessible to them.
  • The promotion of independence. The biggest way occupational therapy can benefit seniors is by giving them independence. Dependence on someone, no matter how close they are, takes a toll on you. With independence comes self-confidence and the ability to rely on yourself. Allowing the elderly the ability to look after themselves gives them the courage to live alone. It also lets them enjoy life more openly and with lesser reservations.
  • Prevention of falls and assistance with memory loss. Occupational therapy can assist in the reduction of falls. Studies show that it has also helped in reducing memory loss. Occupational therapy includes the betterment of cognitive skills. It helps the elderly recognize ways to jog their memory.
  • Promotion of emotional well-being. Being able to look after yourself is rejuvenating. Self-care is really a big thing. When you get older, age takes away some of that independence from you. Not being able to perform simple daily tasks without help can be distressing. Especially when you possess the mental capacity, but not the physical. Occupational therapy can teach you to take care of yourself, and help yourself. This greatly helps the mental state of the elderly.

Visiting an expert occupational therapist can make your life better. Gina and her mother are a testament to the benefits of occupational therapy. At the Pillars of Wellness clinic, they were shown our seasoned occupational therapy department. This helped Gina overcome her fear of leaving her mother alone. It also gave Stephanie the independence to live on her own, and take care of herself. If you feel like a senior you know can benefit from occupational therapy, seek professional help as soon as you can.

Laurent Pinci
Laurent Pinci
Pillars of Wellness is a truly Integrated Healthcare Centre providing a high degree of collaboration and communication among health providers.