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What Is Occupational Therapy?

Happy senior learning what occupational therapy is while in session with a happy caregiver

One of the most challenging parts of the aging process is losing the ability to perform tasks that once seemed simple. When seniors lose the ability to perform or complete everyday tasks, they can experience confusion, frustration, and embarrassment. A senior occupational therapy program can help older adults maintain or recover the skills needed to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

What is occupational therapy? How can it improve the lives of older adults? Learning the answers to these questions can help you or a loved one get the proper care and thrive with age.  

Buckner Villas offers a full spectrum of programs and services to help our residents stay happy and healthy. Whether residents are in our independent living, assisted living, memory care, or long-term skilled nursing program, occupational therapy can help them live as independently as possible. Call 512.580.9882 to learn more about our services and schedule a tour.  

What Is Occupational Therapy for Seniors? 

Because physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) share so many similar features and are frequently prescribed together, they are often confused as being the same. However, there are essential differences between the two.  

The main difference is the focus of each. PT focuses on improving mobility and physical functioning, whereas OT focuses on improving cognitive, sensory, and motor skills to better a senior’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs.  

Another significant difference is that OT takes a more holistic approach, addressing psychological, social, and environmental factors in addition to physical ones. 

Recognizing the Need for Occupational Therapy 

To recognize the need for senior occupational therapy programs, you must first understand what is meant by activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living. Problems in these areas are critical factors in identifying the need for OT.  

Activities of daily living (ADLs) refer to the basic tasks required for self-care, including the following: 

  • Bathing 
  • Dressing 
  • Grooming and personal hygiene 
  • Toileting 
  • Eating 
  • Transferring, such getting in and out of bed or chairs

Instrumental activities of daily living are more complex tasks required for independent living, including the following: 

  • Housekeeping 
  • Meal planning and preparation 
  • Shopping and running errands 
  • Managing finances 
  • Using transportation 
  • Managing medications 
  • Using the phone, computer, or other technology 

ADLs are essential for daily survival, while IADLs are essential for independent living. Both are indicators of overall functioning, and challenges in either help determine the level of services needed.   

Examples of Occupational Therapy Goals 

When working with an occupational therapist, goals are unique to each individual and their particular needs and circumstances. The overarching goal is for OT to help seniors overcome the struggles they face in daily life.  

When seniors cannot perform basic daily tasks, they feel frustrated and overwhelmed and often tend to give up. They can become less inclined to participate in other aspects of life, leading to isolation and depression, significantly affecting overall health and well-being.  

Examples of occupational therapy goals for seniors include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Improving hand-eye coordination 
  • Increasing the length of standing time 
  • Increasing the amount of time spent walking
  • Transferring with minimal or no assistance 
  • Grasping objects 
  • Independent use of the bathroom 
  • Dressing independently 
  • Eating independently 
  • Safely managing stairs 
  • Completing small chores 
  • Memory tasks 

Learn About Buckner Villas’ Senior Occupational Therapy Program 

Buckner Villas is the premier choice for senior living in Austin, TX. We are committed to ensuring our residents live their best lives at the highest level of independence possible. We understand the challenges of aging, and we provide services to help residents overcome these challenges. 

Our senior occupational therapy program allows residents to recognize that even though their bodies and minds may change, they can still live active, engaging, rewarding, and fulfilling lives. Contact us online or call 512.580.9882 to learn more about our senior occupational therapy program for yourself or your loved one.