Improve Your Sense of Wellness

Is Your Elderly Parent Living Alone? How Occupational Therapy Can Help

by Isaiah Simmmons

While most adults want to provide help for their elderly parents, many live too far away or cannot take time away from their jobs or families to do so. Without a close family member to rely on, an elderly parent may struggle to live on their own. While assisted living facilities can be the best option when familial caregivers are not available on a regular schedule, adults may find that their elderly parents are stubbornly insistent on remaining in their own homes for as long as possible. 

Adults who are looking for ways to make an elderly parent safer and more able to manage while living alone may want to consider encouraging their parents to accept occupational therapy to help improve their situation. 

Understanding occupational therapy

When humans grow older, many develop physical infirmities that make it more difficult to complete basic tasks, such as bathing, dressing, cooking, and caring for their homes. If the elderly person has suffered a stroke, joint or other injury, or some type of debilitating illness, their range of movement may be even more limited. 

Occupational therapy centers work with these patients to assess their skill levels and help them learn new ways of completing tasks that have become difficult due to age, mobility issues, or diminished health. In some cases, occupational therapists will help patients explore the use of adaptive devices designed to accommodate physical limitations. For example, a patient who can no longer easily bend and retrieve an item from the floor can be taught to use a grabber device that can be used to pick up or fetch items while sitting or standing. 

Occupational therapists can also recommend home improvements and modifications that will help to keep your elderly parent safe while living alone in their home. Some of the most commonly recommended home modifications include the installation of medical alert systems, handrails, and grab bars in key areas of the home. If mobility is a problem, occupational therapists may also recommend the use of power lift recliners and wheelchairs to help your parent sit and move with less risk of falling.

Occupational therapy sessions can improve the outlook

Elderly parents who find themselves struggling to complete basic tasks can be much more prone to experiencing feelings of depression. If not addressed, they may become even more withdrawn and reclusive, which can further complicate existing health issues and degrade their quality of life. Occupational therapy helps elderly patients set and accomplish small goals to help rebuild self-esteem and improve their general outlook on life, before moving on to larger ones. 

To learn more about occupational therapy and the benefits it can offer an elderly parent, make an appointment to discuss your parent's situation with a qualified occupational therapist in your area.