You may be hearing about the benefits of occupational therapy for older adults and wonder what occupational therapy is and what it can do for you. As adults mature, they may find their physical abilities changing. It’s not uncommon that certain motor functions need to accommodate for a more limited range of motion or that adults need a bit more help in establishing physical balance or even articulating words clearly.
Many adults assume that these therapies are only for individuals recovering from major surgery or catastrophic injury. Quite the contrary, occupational therapy allows individuals experiencing any sort of physical or mental challenge to recover and, sometimes, exceed their previous level of ability. At Wickshire Senior Living, we are empathic advocates of the potential benefits of occupational therapy, so we have arranged for our residents to have the convenience of therapists brought to them.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is for people of all ages. It involves a series of rehabilitative exercises to help improve strength, dexterity, coordination, and balance so that individuals can enjoy more freedom and independence in their daily lives. This is accomplished by identifying any “occupations” that require further conditioning, from getting out of bed to gripping a tennis racket. It also may involve neurological behaviors (in other words, the messaging from the brain to the body), which affect activities from playing a musical instrument to opening a door easily.
Desired outcomes can range from helping small children to hold a pencil or pair of tweezers correctly to fall prevention for older adults. Since these exercises are designed to help the brain and body work together more effectively, speech therapies are frequently included in an occupational therapy regimen. In fact, because of this unique combination of neurological and physical conditioning, occupational therapy can improve cognitive abilities such as memory with the aid of puzzles and other recall strategies.
Benefits of Occupational Therapy
Although each individual will present with different needs, some of the common ailments that may be treated or prevented with occupational therapy include:
- Pain management
- Recovery from stroke, cardiac event, or other illness
- Restoring muscle function and strength after an injury or surgical procedure
- Learning to adapt daily living due to Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or other changes in the body’s range of motion
- Reducing cognitive decline
- Lessened anxiety or depression while undergoing physical transitions
Even more importantly, there is substantial evidence that occupational therapy can lessen the impact of some of these issues or even help to prevent them altogether!
Would I Benefit from Occupational Therapy?
Almost all older adults, indeed, all individuals of any age, benefit from personalized occupational therapy regimens. In fact, you might think of occupational therapy as a variation of the personal training we would find in a gymnasium, where an experienced practitioner tailors a handful of strategically chosen exercises to help your body remain in top shape.
Some examples of occupational therapy in action include:
- Permitting Alzheimer’s patients to develop strategies to recognize and adapt behavioral changes, allowing them to remain more independent
- Helping older adults recovering from an injury to execute basic movements more efficiently, allowing them to preserve their energy for more enjoyable pastimes
- Allowing individuals to practice in using new physical accommodations (such as shower rails or walking aids) preventing further injury
- Permit older adults within an assisted living community freedom of movement across the campus, allowing them to choose and access favorite activities
- Facilitate more rigorous physical activity, lessening the impact of all chronic illnesses, improving immunity, and simply allowing for more fun!
No matter your physical condition or ability, occupational therapy may benefit you or a loved one to enjoy their days and improve their overall wellbeing.