Residents in the Manchester area often have a lot on their minds as they age, but a common fear or anxiety is having to move out of their homes due to health reasons. That’s why occupational therapy can help in many cases.
Though there are some fine retirement communities and assisted living centers in the area that provide quality care, many people, if given the choice, would prefer to remain independent as much as possible in their own homes. That’s why the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is always happy to offer access to a variety of skilled therapists and caregivers. These can work with family members, health care providers and other existing caregivers to create an effective plan to make sure a patient has the proper care they need to help their health and also help preserve their independence as much as possible.
In some cases, they may need some of these services for only a certain amount of time, such as if they need to recover from an accident, an injury, major surgery or other health conditions. In other cases, they may benefit from therapy for years if their mental or physical health permanently has changed, such as having a stroke, dementia, brain damage, requiring a wheelchair, a walker or other mobility assistance.
Either way, a variety of therapists can help with tasks like building strength, improving flexibility or helping mobility so they can either get back to how things used to be or at least develop new skills for their changed health situation.
One of the more useful forms of therapy for seniors in these types of situations is occupational therapy. While some may think this therapy is designed to help people rebuild their skills and abilities so they can go back to work or get a different job, it actually can apply to seniors.
Even though they are retired and no longer have any interest in returning to the workforce, they can, in theory, treat “remaining independent” as the “job” that they want to return to.
This means that the occupational therapist will work with them on a variety of exercises and activities to make sure they can accomplish certain objectives in order to stay put. (Certainly, the occupational therapist won’t be the ones to make the determination of whether someone can stay at home or needs to move – their task is to work on building these skills, and any decision whether to stay or go should be made by others.)
Some of the common activities of daily living can include:
- Getting in and out of bed unassisted. It’s something that people in good physical health may not think about, but to someone in poor health, even these simple motions can be a challenge. An occupational therapist can provide assistance in which motions can be used to successfully rise or recline, or offer suggestions on devices to help, such as handles or a bed that can be adjusted.
- Dressing. Caregivers may be able to help with some grooming tasks but a patient should be able to have the mental and physical abilities to change clothes. This can require flexibility, vision, coordination as well as mental processing/memory skills.
- Balance. Seniors trying to recover from previous injuries or other health conditions may have to re-learn how to walk. They also may be more cautious in how they move or even be afraid to walk far unassisted. But proper balance and avoiding falling can show self-reliance.
- Adaptation to new safety devices. A home may include modifications for safety reasons, such as more bars and handles. A shower may include non-stick surfaces or a bench that makes it easy to sit down rather than stand up or lie down in the bathtub. Someone wanting to demonstrate independence can show that they’re able to use these items safely and without pain or discomfort.
- Feeding. This can start with the preparation process, including recognizing when food is spoiled, using kitchen tools or equipment safely, following recipes, eating unassisted, and then cleaning up afterward. A caregiver may be able to help with some of the shopping and preparation, but an occupational therapist can help a patient learn these types of skills so they can be ready to take care of all these tasks themselves if needed.
- Memory. While some forms of dementia and other health conditions can cause some deterioration of the brain, an occupational therapist can work with patients to help them keep track of important items in their environment. They can assess abilities, come up with exercises to help stimulate their brain, and help with other reminders.
How home health can help
Above and Beyond Home Health Care provides the services of two skilled occupational therapists, who can address a variety of needs for patients and coordinate with other therapists, caregivers, family members and the patient themselves.