When discussing occupational therapy, some people may think the term only refers to getting people back to work. But residents of Dubuque and elsewhere may be interested in knowing that it can also help those receiving palliative care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care wants patients and potential patients to know that many people can benefit from the services of occupational therapy, whether they want to return to work at some point, or simply would like to rebuild life skills that may have been lost due to health conditions like a stroke or other trauma.
Occupational therapy is one of the services we offer to patients with a variety of needs. We have highly trained occupational therapists that enjoy helping patients learn or relearn certain skills. This includes helping them figuring out appropriate goals and a path to achieve them, such as regular exercises or certain activities to build these skills.
This spring is a perfect opportunity to learn more: April is considered Occupational Therapy Month, where people who work in this industry are encouraged to make the community aware about this type of therapy and how useful it can be for all types of people.
How seniors can benefit
Many seniors can receive occupational therapy as a way to make sure they have the appropriate skills and abilities to live independently, rather than needing to relocate to a retirement community or assisted living facility.
Even seniors receiving palliative care may appreciate the ability to live by themselves until they’re unable to anymore. Learning some of these skills, especially with regular visits from an occupational therapist may provide them with extra time for independence.
Some of the areas that occupational therapy can help with include:
- Getting in and out of bed. This process requires balance and muscles to perform properly but can be helpful for quality of life.
- Getting dressed. Changing from sleepwear to daily clothes and vice versa also requires coordination and balance. Even buttoning a shirt can be a challenge for someone
- Bathing and general hygiene tasks like brushing teeth and shaving can go a long way in helping people feel independent and showing that they are able to accomplish these items. Plus, as simple as some of these tasks may be to someone in good health, holding and using a comb can be challenging for someone recovering from a stroke or other health conditions that have affected them physically.
- Moving around the house. Getting from one’s bedroom to other parts of the house or apartment such as the kitchen or laundry area can also demonstrate independence.
- Working in the kitchen. Getting food from cupboards or the refrigerator to prepare a meal can also be a good way to assess one’s abilities to live independently. This also includes cleaning up and putting things away afterward.
- Basic cleaning. Tidying up can help you feel good about your abilities, as well as improving sanitation and reducing the risk of dirt, mold, and infection.
Occupational therapists can also have other useful roles during a visit to a patient’s home. They can point out areas of concern that could possibly affect someone’s health.
This can include identifying safety hazards such as area rugs in hallways that may cause someone to trip or snag a cane or a walker.
Other assistance can be offered in bathrooms, which can potentially have many health hazards to people with mobility issues or poor health.
For instance, a shower/tub can be slippery and require balance to get in and out safely. Not only are the walls smooth, but there are few places to grip and the presence of water can also make conditions more hazardous. Plus, many bathrooms have hard counters and hard floors.
So an occupational therapist may be able to help patients re-learn the skills needed to get in and out of the tub. They also may recommend various assistive devices to make things easier and safer, such as sticky surfaces to the tub, more handles for support, or a chair where someone can sit and during a shower.
This attention to safety hazards can also move to the kitchen, where they can help the patient learn or relearn cooking skills and also look for hazards. This could be items too close to the stove, or even contaminated food which could make someone sick.
An occupational therapist can also make recommendations on other useful safety equipment that can help someone. This can include mobility aids such as canes or walkers if they have difficulty walking.
It also can include referrals to other therapists who might be able to assist, such as a physical therapist or massage therapist.
Both of these can also assist in improving quality of life: a massage therapist can help someone relax and soothe aching muscles. A physical therapist can help rebuild muscle tone and flexibility.
All three areas have the potential to help people in big ways, whatever stage of life they’re in.