Nurse checking in on her rehabilitation patient

Who Benefits From Occupational Therapy?

Many people have heard of and understand the benefits of physical therapy, but occupational therapy (OT) is typically less understood. Questions often arise like, “What activities does an occupational therapist help with?” or “Who benefits from occupational therapy?” If you’re wondering why your physician has referred you for outpatient occupational therapy, wonder no more! Our experts at Willow Care Rehabilitation & Health Care Center are here to answer your most pressing questions about occupational therapy and older adults.

What Do Outpatient Occupational Therapists Do?

When it comes to the aging population and occupational therapy, you might be curious as to what exactly this kind of therapy entails or why it’s needed. Well, there are many reasons for occupational therapy referrals for adults, which address all aspects of aging and health. When you are referred for geriatric occupational therapy, your therapist will help you address various strategies for wellness and improved function with the aim to keep you living as independently and safely as possible and, hopefully, reduce any health care costs you might incur from hospitalization or inpatient care.

What exactly do outpatient occupational therapists do? Many things! Occupational therapy itself is designed to help individuals of all ages overcome physical, sensory or cognitive problems. For seniors in particular, the goal is to help you safely navigate your daily life and adapt to various health challenges, allowing you to remain living independently as long as possible. Some of the areas occupational therapists can help you address include:

  • Age-related problems with a loss of coordination or balance, memory loss, vision or hearing loss, or confusion
  • Medication management strategies or management of chronic diseases
  • Issues with age-specific disorders like dementia
  • Fall prevention and making safety modifications to the home to allow for more independent living
  • Palliative care
  • Oncology care

Occupational Therapy Activities for Elderly Patients

So, how do occupational therapists help you address the issues listed above? There are many types of activities designed to help the elderly with everyday household tasks, including personal care. Your outpatient occupational therapist may ask you to try relaxation techniques for pain management, or they may require you to perform various physical exercises to help develop a stronger sense of balance or coordination. They might work with you at your home to identify possible safety risks which, once resolved, could allow you to continue living independently for a longer period. They even work with seniors on driving rehabilitation techniques.

Your occupational therapist may also work with you on strengthening your fine motor skills to help you with problems of personal care. Even something as minor as folding clothes or practicing opening and closing various containers can help with motor skills that are needed for daily household or personal care tasks. When it comes to issues with cognition, your therapist may work with you using activities like storytelling, dual-task activities, loud reading or neurobic exercises.

What about occupational therapy for elderly with dementia? Does it work? Fortunately, the answer seems to be yes. Recent studies show improvements in both cognition and behavior for elderly patients with dementia who participated in occupational therapy treatments.

Explore Occupational Therapy at Willow Care

Still confused about the basics of occupational therapy for seniors? We can help.

At Willow Care Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, our professionally trained staff serves as a resource you can rely on. Residents at our community are provided with personalized care plans based on each person’s individual needs and health goals, incorporating the advice and recommendations of their primary care physician as well as their specialized physicians and loved ones.

Willow Care offers the best in senior care, including services like physiatry, psychiatry, gerontology, and senior physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Contact us to learn more about how we can meet your needs.