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Importance of occupational therapy in elderly patients

Occupational therapy is a form of treatment and therapy which focuses on helping people learn how to manage performing daily activities in life without any problems, regardless of the form of illness or disability they might be suffering from.

Therefore, occupational therapists deal with a wide variety of patients and work in nursing homes, living facilities, adult daycare centers and community senior centers.

Elderly Patients with Occupational Therapy

Before he/she can help an elderly individual, a therapist always starts the treatment process with an evaluation of the condition of the patient. Then, according to the needs of the affected individual him/herself, the therapy can take many of the following forms.

Basically, occupational therapy can teach a person with arthritis how to conserve the strength of his/her joints and manage to protect these parts of the body. Furthermore, this therapy can be of assistance to anyone who suffers from certain conditions which result in a reduced range of motion. These people are treated through stretching exercises and during the therapy many props like sponges with handles are used.

Another situation where this form of therapy is bound to prove useful is helping people with amputated limbs learn how to put their prosthetic limbs on and take them off, as well as how to take care of both their body and these forms of adaptive equipment.

As far as people with vision problems are concerned, occupational therapy will help them learn how to avoid glare and focus on increasing the color contrast of the environment they observe.

Finally, this therapy will help people suffering from memory impairments by teaching them how to organize themselves better and use notes, tables and many other forms of reminders for motivation and management of all daily activities they might participate in.

Yet, due to lack of proper information that people receive regarding this therapy, they commonly believe that occupational therapy is the same as physical therapy. Naturally, this is incorrect. Simply, physical therapy focuses on increasing a person's mobility after he/she has undergone a debilitating injury or illness while occupational therapy tries to teach these people how to overcome the impairments they have and perform their daily activities without problems. Therefore, while an occupational therapist treats a person with a physical deformity such as a fractured hip, who will after the therapy learn how to use assistive handles in order to manage to move around his/her dwelling, a physical therapist will focus on making this person capable of climbing the stairs.

Furthermore, in cases of memory loss issues that a person may be suffering from, the occupational therapist will assess the level of this problem and develop the best treatment once he/she obtains the necessary information. The treatment may involve making the home of the patient absolutely safe. Additionally, the remaining cognitive and memory skills of the patient need to be used maximally, making it possible for this individual to lead a productive life. Also, the occupational therapy is directed towards the caregivers too, teaching them how to provide social and emotional assistance during group treatments, respite care and similar forms of therapy.

All in all, occupational therapy takes a whole previous life experience of the patient into consideration, helping him/her to achieve all the things him/her was previously capable of, overcoming the effects of an injury or a disease. It is mostly directed towards elderly patients as they are frequently the ones suffering from the above mentioned physical and mental conditions.

Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Even though the elderly are considered to be the most common patients involved in occupational therapy, this does not always need to be so. Rather, a person may be assessed in terms of his/her school performance and necessities, workplace, hospital or any other place of living and working.

Thus, depending on the place where the patient spends most time in, the form of therapy may vary and have different benefits. For example, in case of younger children, the occupational therapy focuses on the physical and motor abilities of the child, his/her awareness of the body and his/her day to day activities such as schoolwork, writing, speaking and other skills of this type, using the toilet, eating, as well as playing with other children and interacting with the world around him/her. So, this therapy helps children manage all these things successfully.

As far as adolescents are concerned, occupational therapy focuses on helping them manage to grow on a personal level, improving their self-esteem and developing their important social skills.

In case of the elderly and adults, this therapy is usually directed towards a treatment of certain disabilities, regardless whether these take place on a psychological, physical or some other levels. Basically, occupational therapy helps people overcome most of the difficulties their health problems force them to have. Therefore, the benefits of such treatment are invaluable.

Occupational therapy is different from a physical one since it focuses on improving a patient's lifestyle, regardless of the impairments he/she might have. Physical therapy, on the other hand, focuses on helping people recover from their injuries, while every other aspect of their recuperation is commonly handled thorough occupational therapy.


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