March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, an awareness month established by the Brain Injury Association of America. Brain injuries can be traumatic (a blow to the head) or non-traumatic (an illness like meningitis, stroke, or Alzheimer’s). With any brain injury, learn why occupational therapy is essential.
What Is Occupational Therapy?
An occupational therapist is a trained professional who helps people relearn or find new ways of completing their daily routines like getting dressed, doing the housework, cooking a meal, or running errands after an illness or injury impacts the ability to do these things independently.
What Can Occupational Therapy Help With?
Occupational therapy helps people find new ways or teach them how to use assistive devices to complete a task or chore. For example, your mom has Alzheimer’s, and she no longer walks without shuffling her feet. It makes it hard to get in and out of the shower on her own.
- Her occupational therapist could teach her how to use a transfer bench to get in and out of the shower without risking a fall. She could learn how to use grab bars to pull herself along the bench and then turn on the water and shower with a hand-held shower wand.
- Suppose Alzheimer’s is leading to vision loss. An occupational therapist can help your mom learn how to move around her home with the help of a walking stick to help her find obstacles before she walks into them. Her occupational therapist can help her exercise her hands to help her grasp items like a fork or spoon for as long as possible. They can work on ways to get food from a plate to the mouth.
- Your mom has a lot of medications to take. Her doctor has her on standard medications to slow the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but she’s also taking antidepressants, vitamin D supplements, and over-the-counter pain relievers for her arthritis. She struggles to keep track of them all. Her occupational therapist can help her find ways to make it easier to remember to take them and remember she has taken them.
- When she wants to call you, your mom doesn’t remember your phone number. She can’t remember how to look up a number on her phone or a list. Her occupational therapist can help her purchase a phone with pictures on the buttons that she can push to call someone instead of needing to know a phone number or quick-call setting.
Occupational Therapy Is Essential As Alzheimer’s Progresses
Use occupational therapy to help your mom retain as much of her fine motor skills and critical thinking skills as she can as Alzheimer’s makes her daily routine more difficult. Her occupational therapist can help her find the best ways to eat, get dressed, and move around her home. Occupational therapy is essential as Alzheimer’s progresses, so don’t delay scheduling this important therapy service.