If you’ve had surgery or suffered an injury or illness, you may face some challenges as you try to return to daily activities. With the help of occupational therapists, many seniors overcome physical barriers to resume the tasks that make it possible to live independently.
April is Occupational Therapy Month, and it’s a good time to recognize the contributions of the occupational therapy practitioners who help people gain the physical function they need to participate in vital daily activities.
How Do Occupational Therapists Help?
The occupational therapists at Mercy Retirement & Care Center help create functional strategies and personalize living environments in ways that allow individuals to continue their daily lives with as little difficulty as possible.
The goals of occupational therapy include allowing individuals with physical challenges to function at the highest levels they can, to continue or increase independence and to take part in activities that boost independence or make life meaningful.
Therapists work with individuals to build strength and flexibility as they make adjustments — both in seniors’ environments and how they interact with their environments — that help move past barriers.
Occupational therapists begin treatment with thorough evaluations to fully understand the specific difficulties an individual faces.
In many cases, physical challenges present significant impediments to continuing to live independently. To overcome physical disability and continue with daily activities — which include dressing, bathing, cooking and housework — a therapist might use stretching exercises to assist a person whose range of motion is limited.
For someone with impaired cognition, therapy might include labeling and organizing a closet or cabinet. An individual with vision problems might benefit from changes to the living environment that improve lighting and eliminate glare.
While physical therapy focuses on improving overall mobility, occupational therapy targets specific daily functions — or occupations — that help seniors maintain and improve their quality of life. Every day, occupational therapists help seniors move past their physical barriers so they can continue to thrive.