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      Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Older Adults

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      For physical therapy practices with a focus on occupational therapy (OT) for geriatric patients, this article focuses on peer-related offerings and strategies to relay physical or cognitive treatment for this demographic segment. It also addresses caregiver needs in conjunction with OT treatment.   

      Occupational Therapy Intervention Structure for Geriatric Patients  

      An occupational therapist’s impact on seniors encompasses many attributes providing abilities for safe, productive, and enjoyable lives, and combatting the daily challenges of age and injury.  

      Functionally, it’s a big gig. It thoroughly encompasses the key benefits of occupational therapy for geriatric patients. OT practitioners are involved in all aspects of care, segmented into these three treatment phases: 

      • Screening, Evaluation, and Reevaluation in collaboration with their client, the OT takes a broad look into their ability to participate in their activities of daily life. This includes considering the client’s history, goals, capacities, and needs. Then the therapist gets granular: considering the activities and occupations, the client needs and wants to perform regularly. The survey both environments and contexts where these occupations will occur to assure their functional needs are met.  

      The OT practitioner communicates the results with the patient and authorized family members and caregivers. This awareness helps everyone involved in the client’s care to continue therapy as needed. This includes recommending additional consultations or supplying client referrals to other professionals for other healthcare services. The OT often stays involved with the client’s overall healthcare throughout their restorative care, working with the extended provider team. 

      • Development, Documentation, and Implementation of the OT’s intervention launch at this phase. It’s based on the client’s needs and priorities, safety issues, and relative benefits and risks of the treatment plan. Throughout implementation, the OT modifies care throughout the intervention based on occurring conditions, documenting changes in the client’s needs, goals, and performance. 
      • Selecting, Measuring, Documenting, and Interpreting is the third stage of the intervention’s course, focusing on the client’s expected or achieved outcomes of occupation engagement. The OT documents changes in the client’s performance and capacities. Then the client is transitioned to other types or intensities of service as needed to achieve the core functional objectives. OT services may be discontinued when the client has achieved their goals or reached maximum attainable benefits.  

      The discharge process is coordinated with the client, their caregiving family members, and other professionals in the client’s life (including medical, educational, social services, and community resources). Aspects often addressed during therapy success measurements are needs and ongoing improvements related to memory loss, vision loss, range of motion issues, home modifications for lifestyle modification needs, and capabilities for preventing falls. 

      The occupational therapy methodology results are encouraging, positively impacting both mental health and life satisfaction simultaneously. OTs provide a unique educational approach, helping seniors achieve and maintain a healthier and more capable lifestyle. 

      The University of Southern California Well Elderly Study chronicled how OT improves functional health and slows aging-related cognitive declines for older adults. This was frequently observed while helping geriatric people live in their residential communities. To continue the benefits, they often benefit from participating in activities including community resources for volunteering and leisure and social activities. Those actively involved benefit from increased mobility and reduced fear and incident of falling.   

      Geriatric Occupational Therapy Tips from Peers (OT Therapies to Address Proactively) 

      These elements of occupational therapy benefit everyone as they advance in age. While they may not all be among the primary reasons clients initially seek treatment, all are encompassed with other services provided.  

      • Adapt to Today Age is a condition to be experienced… For those in their geriatric years, it’s challenging mentally, physically, and spiritually. OTs have a front-row seat to these people’s lives, providing professional assistance that’s appreciated by everyone involved in their care. Helping them adapt to their current state, and preparing them for upcoming transitions, is a much-needed blessing.  

      As a progression of age, people’s typical daily tasks become onerous, exhausting burdens. Their temptation to give up isn’t a viable option, though they’re inclined to do so. Struggling with basic tasks often leads to a functionally debilitating shift to withdraw from social aspects of life.  

      They become less inclined to participate in aspects they previously enjoyed, including social gatherings, family outings, and hobbies. This self-isolation heightens detachment and depression. OTs, enable these people to avoid or improve these downward spirals, through rehabilitation techniques and enhanced motor skills.  

      • Encouraging Outlook Besides memory restoration improvements, another mental benefit of occupational therapy is its ability to provide an elderly patient with a better outlook on life. This is a time they desperately need the encouragement that comes with therapy. They have accomplishments to achieve that are meaningful to them. They’re striving for their bodies and minds to keep up.  

      Occupational therapists help give elderly patients the confidence and determination they need to make the most out of their later years. A patient’s life purpose is inspired by their physical and mental ability to reach hopeful outcomes.  

      • Caregiver Care  An occasionally underutilized benefit of occupational therapy is the help it provides to patients’ caregivers, many of them being family members. 29 percent of the US population provides care for an elderly person each year. Many have little or no training in this acquired side-profession, as they spend 20 hours per week providing care. Therapists can teach these people rehabilitation techniques to supplement treatment sessions, and strategies to avoid burnout, occurring from physical and emotional stressors in their lives.  

      These people are the other population occupational therapists should consider patients. They need OT help (and encouragement themselves) to coordinate both their family member’s health while maintaining their own.  

      Here’s what OTs can do to support and coordinate care amongst clients and family members: 

      • Keep caregivers up on current research and care their elderly patients are receiving.  
      • Inform the caregiver about their patient’s therapy, so the family member can continue this work when the OT is unavailable. 
      • Addresses caregiver concerns and emotions, frustrations, anger, and sadness; be a trusted resource for them. 
      • Provide caregivers with healthy coping strategies for conditions they’ll likely encounter. 
      • Encourage the caregiver to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle for themselves. 

      Improving Occupational Therapy Practice Operations and Patient Treatment 

      The complications of managing occupational therapy for geriatric practice operations and patient care are often more challenging than the care itself. Your administrative, patient management, encounter documentation, and reimbursement billing workload and workflow continue to increase as your organization and partner network further grows. Automating these functions increases accuracy and reduces costs. See how here.  

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