Senior citizens tend to develop a variety of health problems as they age. These conditions often limit their ability to perform different tasks. Fortunately, there are a number of things they can do to reduce these problems. Occupational therapy has been shown to be a very effective solution.
Health Benefits of Occupational Therapy
The University of Southern California conducted a study on occupational therapy benefits for seniors in 1997. This study providing occupational therapy to older citizens reduced health care and nursing facility costs. Many senior communities have since started providing these services to their residents.
The study tracked over 360 seniors over a three year timeframe. One third of the participants received occupational therapy, while the remaining subjects participated in physical activities that weren’t led by a health professional. The group that received physical therapy experienced noticeable improvements in a variety of ways:
- Longer average life expectancy
- More energy
- Less difficulty performing physical tasks
- Fewer symptoms of dementia and other cognitive disorders
- Professor Florence Clark, the lead author of the study, said that the results are highly significant.
The research clearly shows that occupational therapy is beneficial. Senior citizens will want to consider working with an occupational therapist, especially if they are exhibiting early symptoms of different health problems.
Creating an Occupational Therapy Plan
The USC study and other follow-up research clearly show that occupational therapy is highly beneficial to senior citizens. However, in order to realize the benefits, they will need to develop a treatment plan first. Here are some factors that you should be aware of:
- Treatment goals will need to factor for any health problems the patient is suffering from. The occupational therapist will need to consider physical limitations the condition poses, while also making sure it is treated properly.
- The treatment plan will depend on the setting the senior lives in. Seniors using an age-in-place treatment plan will have fewer opportunities than one enrolling in a lifestyle facility such as this.
- Occupational therapy tends to be much more effective when used in conjunction with other treatments. Seniors should try working with a physical therapist and other health professionals. Medication for chronic conditions is often necessary to realize the benefits of occupational therapy, but the therapists need to be aware of these medications and factor for potential side effects.
Seniors will need to work closely with their occupational therapist and other health professionals on their treatment team. They will be able to come up with a solid framework to address any health problems their patients are facing.