The important role of occupational therapy in aged care
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The important role of occupational therapy in aged care

An occupational therapist has several roles. In short, their role is to help people overcome the issues they face with disability and illness. This could have been caused by aging, an illness, or an accident, and is done to help them maintain their ability to carry out everyday tasks and occupations. Everything is considered by an occupational therapist including the physical, social, psychological, and environmental. If it could impact a person’s wellbeing, then an occupational therapist will assess it and put mechanisms in place to help the individual client. 

The main goal of occupational therapists is to enable their patients to participate as fully as they can in their everyday life. They can assist the patient with a range of activities, helping them to enjoy their life as much as they can. This is especially important in aged care as it helps them to live their best possible life, without having to rely on the help of others. 

Services Offered For Aged Care

There is a broad range of services that are offered to elderly people, as they need to be tailored to the requirements of the individual. Some of the things that they may do for patients in aged care include:

  • Home modifications to ensure that the home is more suitable
  • Self-management and home-management
  • Aid in developing new skills for self-care
  • Assessment, customisation, and oversight of mobility aids
  • Onward referral to specific medical services
  • Client advocacy when needed

There are of course other services that can be offered, but these are some of the most common. Overall, the service that will be offered will depend on the needs of the patient, and if these change at any point, the services will also be revised. 

Benefits Of Occupational Care

There are numerous benefits of occupational care that you should keep in mind when you explore this possibility. Here are some of the key advantages that you should keep in mind. 

Considering Your Needs

One of the key advantages of occupational care is that an occupational therapist will provide a highly personalised solution for elderly people. This means that people can get the exact support that they need which will differ based on the individual. For instance, it might include assessing whether an individual needs help with public transportation or functional assessments such as whether an elderly person needs help with kitchen tasks. This personalised approach to care ensures that no need or requirements are overlooked. Every elderly person is different and occupational care understands this. 

Rehabilitation

As you get older, it becomes more likely that you will experience a condition or disability that will negatively impact your quality of life. Examples would be a stroke or even a hip replacement. If this is the case, then it’s important to make sure that an elderly individual can get their life back on track. With occupational care, individuals can be prescribed the right treatment and educated on how to use equipment that can benefit them. This includes things that can improve their mobility such as walkers. Do be aware that more than 40% of individuals over 60 have disabilities. More than 250 million older people also have some form of severe disability that they live with. 

Helps Cope With Chronic Pain

As we get older, even simple tasks can take a lot out of us. It’s not uncommon for elderly people to experience chronic pain with age, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. Where one person may cope with this by lashing out when they are experiencing a flare-up, others may withdraw from everyone around them, suffering in silence. 

The occupational therapist will help their patient to come up with some healthier coping mechanisms that will aid them in managing their chronic pain. They will suggest alternatives that can be put in place so that the patient is not a danger to themselves or others, or producing any kind of unhealthy behaviour.

Support With Everyday Living

With the help from the right OT, it is possible to ensure that people can stay in their homes for far longer and avoid moving into full-time care. They will help ensure that people living at home don’t have to worry about issues with falls or other dangers in the typical home environment. The OT will ensure that they help add meaning and value to each day of an individual’s life. This includes thinking about the type of equipment that is available for an individual’s mobility requirements such as options like a stairlift. This is going to depend on the individual home of the person and their requirements. 

Supporting Memory For Those With Dementia

Memory loss is one of the most common early signs of dementia. 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 do have some form of dementia. Of these, 70% of people in care homes suffer from severe memory problems that impact their daily life. Occupational care can ensure that individuals suffering from memory loss can get the full support that they need. One of the ways that they can do this is by changing the living environment of the individual. For instance, everyday items can be placed somewhere that people will easily be able to find them. As well as this, they can also come up with memory games that can be used by occupation care therapists to help an individual improve their memories. This could include using key tools such as calendars and notebooks. Indeed, teaching elderly individuals to use computers can ensure that their world is open to far more exciting and interesting possibilities. 

Encourages Independence

Another key advantage of occupational therapy is that it encourages high levels of independence. As you get older it’s common for people to lose their independence. Occupational therapy helps ensure that people can thrive more in their home and personal life. Loss of independence can come in a variety of forms. For instance, it might mean that they are struggling to get to different places by themselves or simply move around their home. It’s important to make sure that people feel empowered to do as much themselves as possible. That way they can live independently longer and achieve higher levels of happiness. 

 Improves Overall Quality Of Life

All of the benefits of occupational therapy for aged care come together to create an overall better quality of life. It creates a healthier, and more active lifestyle to ensure that the patient is making the most of their life. When this happens, the elderly person is happier as they are receiving the right help to give them a good life, even when they are in an aged care facility. 

Fun Occupational Therapy Activities

It’s worth exploring some of the most common activities occupational therapists can use to help the elderly. This might include physical therapy such as walking or climbing up the stairs. Options like this will help ensure that different parts of the body receive a workout and no area of the body is neglected. This ensures that elderly individuals don’t have more issues with their mobility that develop over time because they are not getting the right amount of exercise. 

Tasks may also be used to help ensure that elderly individuals can improve their fine motor skills. This could include working on puzzles that help brain activity at the same time or something like writing techniques. Writing techniques are particularly important because it ensures that an elderly individual can continue to communicate effectively in a variety of different ways. It is particularly useful if an individual is suffering from hearing loss. 

Homes may also be modified for the individual to ensure that they do have more mobility, both independently and under the care of an occupational therapist. This could include anything from handrails to full ramps that will be perfect for an elderly individual who uses a wheelchair. 

Finally, occupational care may also include mental health exercises. This can be useful if an elderly individual is experiencing a wide range of personal issues. For instance, they could be experiencing chronic pain. People who have chronic pain will often have issues with their mental health and they could even suffer from depression. An occupational therapist will ensure that people never feel alone dealing with mental health problems like this.

Conclusion

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see the important role of occupational therapy in aged care. There are many different areas of occupational therapy, each having its own benefits. It depends on the needs of the individual as to which approach is going to suit the elderly person best. An occupational therapist will go through all of the information that is needed and ensure that all techniques are understood by the patients in their care. 

Occupational therapists can help ensure that people like this achieve a higher quality of life, even in the later years. They can also help elderly individuals maintain their independence with the full personalized care that they need. 

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