In 2021, there were close to 134,000 occupational therapists in the U.S. It’s an occupation that is in demand, with the Bureau of Labor and Services estimating the need will increase by 14% in the next decade. What is occupational therapy?
An occupational therapist is a healthcare professional who helps people develop and maintain the skills needed to live independently. While they help all ages, geriatric occupational therapists specialize in helping older adults maintain the quality of life and independence they desire as they age at home.
The Skills and Techniques an Occupational Therapist Uses
Occupational therapists help your dad through exercises, the use of adaptive equipment, and relearning new ways to do old tasks. It’s all about learning again and not being afraid to embrace change.
Like a physical therapist, an occupational therapist will assess your dad’s abilities and work on exercises that help strengthen muscles and joints. He’ll repeat these exercises multiple times a day to build strength and stamina.
He’ll also learn how to use adaptive equipment to help him maintain as much independence as possible. If he needs a cane, walker, wheelchair, or artificial limb, they’ll teach him the right way to use them to ensure he doesn’t fall and injure himself while trying.
After a Stroke
Your dad may no longer be able to bend over to tie his shoes. He’ll learn how to use shoes that slip right on and never need tying. If he needs a rigid ankle brace when walking, his occupational therapist will teach him how to put it on and use it.
He can’t do things like write his name or talk. His occupational therapist will help him find ways to communicate his needs as he relearns the skills he needs to regain his independence.
Occupational therapy can teach him how to take a shower using a sliding transfer seat and hand-held shower wand. He’ll learn how to choose outfits that he can put on without help. Pull-on pants and shirts with wide necks will be easiest for him to manage.
Your dad has dementia and it’s advancing. It’s important to have him work with an occupational therapist to maintain his skills for as long as possible. His therapist can help him maintain the ability to dress and shower independently, eat meals on his own, and maintain his balance.
These are just a few of the ways an occupational therapist can help your dad remain independent after an illness, chronic condition, or accident. There’s a lot more they can help with, and it all starts with making a call.
Whether your dad had a stroke, fall, or has Parkinson’s, make sure he has the supportive care of an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy supports his independence and desire to live in his current home. Learn more about these services and make arrangements for occupational therapy at home.