How Occupational Therapy Helps Seniors Return Home


Seniors in short-term skilled nursing care are often keen to get back to the comfort of their own home as quickly as possible. Skilled rehabilitation incorporating occupational therapy can be a powerful tool, helping them to regain the independence, confidence and functionality that allows seniors to live well.

Occupational therapy is a branch of skilled rehabilitation that specializes in helping patients carry out their daily activities (or ‘occupations’) independently and successfully. Occupational therapy can offer practical, realistic and empowering solutions for patients. Let’s take a look at how occupational therapy can help seniors successfully transition back into their own home, equipped with the skills, knowledge and strength they need to maximize their quality of life.

Tailored Therapeutic Care

Occupational therapy aims to holistically address a patient’s needs, focusing not only on physical and mental abilities, but on how these abilities impact on their day-to-day life. Prior to starting occupational therapy, a senior’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility will formulate a program based on their unique needs. An expert occupational therapist will consider factors like the patient’s overall health, specific weaknesses and any medical conditions. From this observation and evaluation, a detailed plan will be put together to address the patient’s long-term goals.

Activities of Daily Living

The ultimate aim of occupational therapy is to help senior rehabilitation patients regain the physical ability and confidence to carry out essential activities of daily living, in a way that is adapted to their capabilities. Therefore, occupational therapy goes a step further than other types of skilled rehabilitation by focusing on the application of therapeutic techniques like strength, range of motion and mobility training.

Typically, occupational therapists allow patients to practise the activities of daily living they struggle with in a supportive, controlled environment. For example, they may set up a mock bathroom to help the patient learn how to safely use a transfer bench. At Chapin Home, our Activities of Daily Living Kitchen allows our expert occupational therapists to help patients navigate activities like cooking and cleaning in preparation for their return home.

Occupational therapy can also help senior rehabilitation patients independently carry out personal care tasks like using the bathroom, dressing or brushing their teeth. For many seniors, independent living is vitally important, and occupational therapy can help them take care of themselves for as long as possible. This can be powerful in improving overall health and wellbeing, allowing seniors to feel empowered and capable in their daily lives.

Adaptive Equipment

Another key aspect of occupational therapy is helping seniors learn how to competently use new adaptive equipment within a safe setting. For example, many seniors begin using wheelchairs, walkers or crutches at some stage, and may find themselves struggling with activities like driving or moving around the home with their new mobility aid. This aspect of occupational therapy is particularly useful for seniors who have been recently discharged from hospital following an illness, injury or surgery. Occupational therapy can help seniors recover from these acute events, allowing them to live independently in a way that reduces risk of accidents, complications and, ultimately, rehospitalization.

A Combined Approach

A senior’s occupational therapy care plan will be carefully tailored to meet their needs and personal goals. There are a range of therapies and techniques boasting excellent benefits for seniors that are often incorporated into occupational therapy care plans. For example, a senior might take part in upper or lower body strengthening sessions to increase their physical capabilities. This training could then be used to help them practise activities of daily living that require a specific type of strength (for example, lower body strengthening could help with climbing stairs, or upper body strengthening could help them use a transfer bench).

Chapin Home can Help

For seniors who wish to stay as independent as possible and return home after short-term skilled nursing care or an acute medical event, occupational therapy can be extremely beneficial. If you or a loved one is in recovery from an illness, injury or surgery, or has started struggling with activities of daily living at home, our director of therapy will be happy to answer any questions you have about occupational therapy. Arrange a visit today to meet our skilled rehabilitation team and explore our range of cutting-edge physical and occupational therapy equipment.

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