People would require different treatments and therapies as they age. You are lucky if you’d grow old in supreme health and infrequent hospital visits, but this is not the case most of the time.
As the older adult population in Singapore increases, more people are also looking for ways to make their lives easier and more comfortable.
This article will explain a therapy for elderly, younger adults, and older adults to help them deal with everyday routines, called occupational therapy.
What is occupational therapy, and how does it differ from cognitive behavioral therapy? What are its physical and mental effects on a person’s mental health, mental illness, late-life depression, cognitive impairment, the aging process, and overall quality of life?
Let us learn more about occupational therapy and its benefits, especially for older adults.
What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?
A licensed therapist facilitates occupational therapy. It helps patients, especially elderly people, improve their mobility, range of motion, strength, and basic motor skills.
Many older adults, especially those suffering from a functional impairment, chronic illnesses, depression, and anxiety, would require assistance even with the most basic tasks, such as brushing their teeth or walking.
Occupational therapists utilize tools to improve the health of their older clients and teach them coping strategies and how to deal with negative emotions through clinical psychology and science.
Older adults living with their family members or checked into mental health services or nursing homes can benefit from the process. The therapists will assess the condition of their older clients before coming up with a therapy plan and activities to address their concerns.
After the assessment, the therapist will have a better understanding of how to make life easier to live for these older adults. They will take into consideration the following factors:
- Facilitation between family members and caregivers
- Self-care options
- Dealing with functional impairment
- Living with their health issues
- Restoration of mental health
- Improvement of their physical health
- Modifications needed in their living space or homes
What Are the Benefits of OT?
OT offers countless benefits for older adults, younger adults, and people in need of mental health services. Occupational therapists can work with the team responsible for taking care of the patients, including family members, caregivers, social workers, nurses, and doctors.
Older adults will have a better chance to achieve and sustain personal goals with the help of occupational therapy. Here’s a look at some of its benefits:
Older adults gain a sense of independence
This is among the top priority of OT, to bring back the sense of independence to older adults. To get this done, they will assess the health of the older adults undergoing OT before devising plans to suit their requirements.
The plans include overcoming daily challenges for these older adults, keeping mental illness at bay, dealing with mental health issues, and living their lives happier and more comfortably.
Therapists can suggest ways how to modify the dwelling of these older adults
Most of the older adult population in Singapore prefers living in their own homes. However, there are cases when their dwellings are no longer safe for their age, mental health, and general wellness.
Therapists can look into the homes of older adults and suggests modifications to make them safer and encourage independent living. Here are the common changes done in many houses of older adults who have undergone the therapy:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Shower benches
- Slip-resistant floor
- Power lift recliners
- Grab bars and handles, especially in accident-prone areas
- House monitoring alert systems
Once the homes of these older adults have been modified, their therapists can assist by teaching them how to use the changes and additions. It is crucial that these older adults not only have the right tools but also know how to use them, so they can easily ask for help in an emergency.
Improve mental health
OT works on the physical health of older adults, but it’s also a psychological treatment that can cause significant improvements to mental health illness and mental health issues.
When older adults meet with a therapist, the latter will perform cognitive behavioral therapy.
They need to know if the patients have any mental health concerns or are in need of mental health services. They will take everything down, analyze results, and create a personalized plan for these older adults.
The plans will ensure their conditions will improve and they will gain physical strength in the process. They also help older adults regain the memory skills necessary in their everyday lives by doing the following techniques:
- Teach the caregivers of these older adults how to make them easily remember. The technique can be as simple as limiting the number of items the patient often sees in areas of the house they usually go to, like the pantry or garden.
- Teach the caregivers of these older adults to continue supporting the patients despite suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, depression symptoms, and other mental health concerns.
- Guiding the older adults about things they easily get confused with, such as which house is theirs. The therapist can put a stop label sign on their front doors so they won’t miss it or wander to find where they live.
- Playing activities good for the brain, such as matching games and puzzles.
Improve memory loss and vision
Most older adults with vision problems struggle to do basic everyday tasks. If this goes on without medical intervention, they will likely fall into depression and anxiety.
The therapist will include activities to boost patient vision awareness, perceptual vision, and pattern detection. They can recommend the following strategies to get this done:
- Putting colored tapes on steps to keep the older adults from falling or missing their steps
- Having the walls painted light and placing outlets in dark colors to make them visible
- Using brightly-colored stickers in labeling appliances
- Having magnifiers easily accessible allows older adults to read small prints
- Fixing the lighting at home to make it easier for older adults to see
- Imposing a color coding scheme to the medications and household items of the older adults
- Removing anything that may cause falling or tripping
Aside from depression and anxiety, cognitive behavioral approaches or behavioral treatments like OT can help older adult clients avoid falls. This is done by improving their strength and balance through physical activities and exercises.
Through continued therapy, older clients will have fewer risk factors of having accidental falls at home. They will have an easier time accepting the mental effects of old age and experience healthy aging.
Live every day with a lighter mood and excitement
Older adults feel happier when they are not bothered by any chronic pain. it is easier to avoid late-life depression when you have an improved quality of life and higher self-esteem.
Most of these depressed older adults succumb to mental illness, generalized anxiety disorder, low self-esteem, and personality disorders when they feel bound to do what they want.
It feels helpless when you can’t do basic tasks, such as grooming, personal care, going to the toilet, dressing, or eating.
Therapists apply rehabilitation techniques to make it easier for older adults to accomplish activities of daily living, such as toileting, eating, bathing, dressing, and walking.
Occupational Therapy Activities for the Elderly
Here are the most common therapy activities older adults do as part of their OT sessions:
- Participating in a support group discussion about their experiences with depression and anxiety
- Mental health exercises for aging adults in need of interpersonal therapy
- Better communication skills
- Learning how to handle late-life anxiety, cognitive decline, low self-esteem, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, depressive symptoms, geriatric depression, and other health issues related to old age and aging adults.
- Working on the motor skills of these older adults dealing with depression symptoms and mental disorders through fun and engaging activities. They include clasping buttons, tying shoes, doing puzzles, and writing.
- Implementing home modifications and explaining the changes to these older adults
- Doing activities beneficial in dealing with mental illness, depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, anxiety symptoms, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other health issues in particular relevance to the lives of these older adults.
Other Useful Occupational Therapy Sources
OT can deal with a range of health issues, depending on the age and condition of the patient. Evidence-based psychotherapeutic interventions have proven effective in dementia patients, those with anxiety disorders, depressed older adults, and people suffering from general mental health concerns.
You can find more sources about OT in relation to the following topics:
- NDIS and physical abilities
- Stroke rehabilitation
- Home Assessment
- Refining motor skills of older adults
- OT in people with autism
- Mental illness and other mental disorders
- Treating depression
- Life review therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Problem-solving therapy
- Clinical psychology
- Group psychotherapy
Your loved ones need you, especially when they are already old and looking for constant care and support. But more than the attention, you need to ensure they seek treatment from mental health professionals and other health care professionals.
You must keep them well so they won’t fall into mental illness and other health issues. We can help you care for your elderly family members in need of assistance and help.
We at RC Caregivers have years of experience and proof of excellent service. You can entrust us with your loved ones needing to undergo OT, and rest assured you have placed them in good and reliable hands.