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April is Occupational Therapy Month

April is the month to celebrate Occupational Therapists and all that they do to help patients gain or return to their functional independence.

Many seniors receive occupational therapy as a way to help perform “occupations” or activities of daily living (ADLs) – which can include everything from bathing and toileting to getting dressed in the morning. As we age, certain conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, can make performing these activities much more difficult. Thus, the goal is to help seniors learn to move and function and overcome physical challenges, in spite of diminished range-of-motion and mobility. That being said, occupational therapy is not limited to just improving physical functionality. Therapists can use a variety of techniques to help improve memory and cognitive ability, as well.

Below are some of the ways in which an occupational therapist can help your elderly loved one.

* Overcoming daily challenges: There are certain routine activities that younger people may take for granted, but for older adults, seemingly simple tasks may feel monumental. Physical barriers, from certain conditions, can add to the overall stress a senior may feel. Therapists will work to form specific strategies that allow seniors to do the things they used to do or want to do, either by helping them overcome these limitations or by finding alternatives.

* Modifying the home: Some ADLs simply can’t be completed without some form of environmental assistance. Therapists may recommend that improvements or modifications be made in the home. Whether it’s the installation of railings, mats, grip bars – or any other assistive devices designed to help improve balance and stability – or modified utensils that can make eating easier. This can make a significant difference for those that may be suffering from arthritis or Parkinson’s. The benefit of a therapist helping to modify the home is really twofold: on one hand, it helps improve functionality, and on the other, it enhances the safety of the overall environment.

* Improving mental wellbeing: As mentioned, occupational therapy does not revolve solely around improving physical wellbeing. If they’ve received referrals from their doctors to help reduce stress or anxiety, occupational therapists can incorporate relaxation exercises and techniques into a senior’s routine. Similarly, they can utilize various activities to help improve cognition, with crossword puzzles or memory games.

* Promoting independence: Therapists are instructed to help improve quality of life, not just within a short span of time, but for a lifetime – and that begins with taking into account what challenges a senior wishes to overcome, day in and day out. The key with occupational therapy is that it represents a way of educating and showing the steps an individual can take on their own to continue meeting their goals and completing ADLs.

If you feel that your loved one could benefit from the services provided by an Occupational Therapist - talk to their HealthCare Professional!! Willamette Valley Caregivers works closely with many Home Health and Outpatient companies, and our caregivers can assist clients with following the treatment plans developed by Physical & Occupational Therapists!

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