Do you have a senior loved one who could benefit from an occupational therapist’s guidance to keep them safe while living independently in their homes?
It’s a common saying that holds true. Prevention is better than cure. Occupational therapists are trained to identify dangerous hazards in people’s homes, and small changes that can make a big difference keeping the home safe for seniors to maintain the activities of daily life.
Occupational therapists are also skilled at finding ways to modify people’s everyday tasks, and provide the necessary equipment for these modifications, to allow for mobility changes, medical conditions and safer physical movements.
We asked a team of our occupational therapists a couple of important questions for seniors and their loved ones about taking these important steps.
Why is prevention better than cure when it comes to occupational therapy support for senior people?
Occupational therapists are trained to spot the problems while they are small, so even if you think something isn’t an issue yet, making small changes earlier on and learning to adapt while you are more able, is better than waiting till the concern or problem is bigger. I guarantee that prevention is less painful than the cure!
Prevention is always better than cure. We know that clients don't want to have falls or struggle with tasks.By asking for help, or taking on board safety recommendations, we can help to reduce your risk of harm and keep you living at home safely for longer.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing… it is much more preferable to implement therapy, equipment or home modifications for future planning rather than being faced with these needs urgently as a result of a fall, injury or hospitalisation that could have been avoided. Don’t wait for something to happen to go ahead with necessary changes to improve your safety and ease.
As folks get older, their bodies don’t recover as well after injury and illness. There is growing evidence which shows keeping healthy, and physically and mentally fit can ward off dementia and cognitive changes, falls and significant illness. Even if there has been a mishap, the fitter and healthier someone is, generally it is less complicated to find equipment or solutions to assist overcoming difficulties. It might mean the difference of getting some equipment, compared to a major bathroom modification to be able to take a shower.
Falls in older adults are often serious and can result in functional decline, reduced quality of life, injury and loss of independence. Prevention through early access to occupational therapy services is beneficial to reduce the risk of falls occurring.
What suggestions do you have for loved ones of seniors who might be reluctant to seek assistance?
Encouraging people to receive assistance is an ongoing conversation, which must be honest and kind, and we must also be accepting of people’s choices.
We all feel better when we have some purposeful activity each day, so make the activity as safe as possible for your loved one. That’s when you call the occupational therapist for their assistance to set up the environment to be as safe as possible.
I encourage older people to keep doing what they can do, and to keep being involved with things they enjoy in whatever way they can. I also encourage my senior clients to let someone else assist with the heavy or difficult jobs which use up all their energy, or which put them at risk of injury.
It’s good to remind people, too, that giving another person some paid work to do, such as house cleaning, is good for our community and society.
What's the harm in asking? All of these services and interventions are aimed at keeping senior citizens living at home and safe.
Our aim is to keep you at home and working towards your goals.
Occupational therapists act as advisors. Anything we recommend are just that, recommendations. We can help educate you on what is available to you, and it is then your choice if you’d like to implement. It’s always worth an initial chat to see what you could benefit from.
Some may take a while to feel comfortable with seeking assistance – it is a big change for most. Reassure loved ones that support is available to assist them in a respectful way and they are included at every step.
No one will force anyone to do something they are not willing to do or are not quite ready for. Also, there is opportunity to reconsider, and change their minds. Occupational therapists will often trial various equipment to ensure it complies with certain supplier criteria.
Early intervention can assist in the prevention of hospital admissions or the need to go into residential aged care. An occupational therapist’s focus is on what is important to the client and family.
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