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What Is Occupational Therapy?

April 20, 2022

At Best Care, we will always be advocates for independence and dignity in caregiving. Part of the role of a caregiver is to support recipients of care to live life how they want to and on their own terms.

Occupational therapy is one way of doing that, as it works to help empower people to both mentally and physically regain control over areas of their lives that they might be missing out on.

In honor of Occupational Therapy Month this April, let’s take a closer look at what occupational therapy actually is.

What is occupational therapy for seniors?

In general, occupational therapy refers to a method of empowering and assisting people in leading independent and productive lives by allowing them to recover or develop skills needed to complete daily tasks. 

While occupational therapy can be effective for those of any age, it has been known to be especially beneficial for seniors. Older people can sometimes feel helpless, or vulnerable, if they can no longer live as independently as they used to, or if they can no longer complete daily tasks, due to physical or mental disabilities.

Occupational therapy tools for seniors

Here are a few ways you can introduce occupational therapy for seniors to your care plan. While professional occupational therapists can support seniors with dedicated programs, there are some occupational therapy activities for seniors that you could try for yourself —or you might even be doing already.

For example, memory games are something that you might already be doing as a caregiver. They can be helpful in occupational therapy for improving cognitive ability.

Examples include:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Reading magazines
  • Craft activities

You can also personalize activities to the individual recipient of care. Does the senior in your care want to bathe independently? This can be one of the first things you work on.

It might mean you need to make changes to the environment, as well, such as putting up a bar in the bathroom for the individual to lean on if he or she is physically infirm. It’s important that you consider what specific issues the individual is experiencing.

Another popular occupational therapy activity is relaxation exercises. These can help reduce anxiety, tension, and stress.

  • Try starting out with a deep breathing exercise. Start by sitting on a chair with eyes closed, then placing the hand on the stomach and inhaling deeply. Pause briefly before exhaling slowly.
  • Another physical exercise that can be beneficial is leg extensions. Seniors can do this while seated to reduce joint pain and regain strength over time. While sitting in a chair, they position their hands next to their sides, keeping their feet flat on the floor. Then slowly straighten one leg in front of them. They should keep their leg in this extended position for a few seconds before doing the same exercise with the other leg. 

Have Questions?

If you have questions about occupational therapy for seniors, or any aspect of senior home care services, don’t hesitate to reach out! The Best Care team is here to help you and your loved ones.

An older couple doing yoga outdoors
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