Older adults are often already familiar with the benefits of physical therapy, such as enhancing range of motion in an injured joint. Occupational therapy is similar, but it focuses on much more. This type of therapy involves boosting a senior’s mental, physical, and psychological health by providing these benefits.
Overcome New Physical Challenges
While physical therapy helps seniors recover their muscle strength and flexibility, occupational therapy involves showing them ways to manage their daily needs now. An occupational therapist gently guides a senior through ways he or she can do things, such as holding a pen if his or her hands are weak. Figuring out ways to do things encourages seniors to do more tasks on their own, and this has the effect of further enhancing their abilities.
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Increase Balance & Stability
Standing, walking, and stepping over objects are all skills occupational therapists help seniors maintain. With special exercises and activities, seniors are given the opportunity to practice movements that strengthen their balance. Having better balance prevents seniors from falling as they go about their daily activities. This has the effect of reducing their risk of more serious injuries.
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Get Suggestions for Home Modifications
Occupational therapists often visit seniors’ homes to see them interact in their daily environments. During these visits, they can look for things that need to be changed to make it possible for their senior clients to have more independence. Often, something as simple as adding grab bars in the shower restores a senior’s ability to take care of personal hygiene. Ramps, adjustable beds, and lower shelves are a few more simple modifications an occupational therapist might recommend.
Help with Chronic Pain Management
Many of the exercises seniors do with occupational therapists increase their range of motion, and this is beneficial for chronic pain caused by arthritis or stiff muscles. Therapists can also show seniors how to pace themselves and use safe strategies to reduce the risk of fatigue or injuries that make pain worse.
Strengthen Cognitive Abilities
Occupational therapy also includes brain training activities. This is because there’s a strong connection between a senior’s brain activity and how the rest of the body responds. Seniors who participate in activities that build their cognitive skills are better able to remember the procedures for things they need to do every day.
Make It Easier to Get Out & Socialize
Seniors whose abilities begin to fade often become isolated. Occupational therapy is also designed to help seniors regain their former sense of confidence. Being able to get dressed on their own helps seniors want to get back out in the world. Occupational therapists can also show seniors how to adjust their strategies for engaging in their favorite hobbies. If your loved one has given up on life, working with an occupational therapist could enhance his or her ability to do what he or she enjoys most.
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