OT Safety for Older Adults

OT Older Adult

Caring for aging parents is complicated, especially if aging parents deny their emerging limitations. It is important to understand that falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors. Some of the most common hazards for falls are objects on the floor, slippery surfaces, and steps. However, poor lighting, a lack of supportive handles or surfaces, and ill-suited furniture are also safety hazards.

It’s important to take the time to assess what needs to be done to make your parent’s home safer as they age. If you or your siblings do not have the time for this, or simply want assistance in creating a safer environment for mom and dad, consider how an Occupational Therapist can help.

What do Occupational Therapists do?

An Occupational Therapist’s own daily tasks are wide-ranging, but a relationship with any client usually begins with an initial assessment and a report to determine a client’s needs.

From there, occupational therapy proceeds to organizing home support and physical rehabilitation programs, implementing return to work strategies, ordering assistance equipment, and even suggesting major building modifications, like wheelchair access ramps.

How can an Occupational Therapist Help my Aging parents?

While each individual’s needs will be different, an Occupational Therapist will help your aging parents by assessing your parent’s home and by determining their personal needs.

  • Does mom or dad have issues with walking or balance?
  • Has either parent suffered from a previous fall?
  • Should a cane be prescribed, instead of relying on walls and furniture for support?
  • What are the surfaces in your parent’s home? Should rubber mats be provided for slippery surfaces in the bathtub or outside?
  • Are there appropriate grab bars and supportive surfaces for climbing stairs or getting in and out of the bathtub?
  • Are medications being forgotten? Can a personalized reminder schedule be implemented?
  • Is the stove electric or is it a gas stove that could be hazardous if left on unnoticed?

An Occupational Therapist can also assess and recommend a personalized exercise program that can increase strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility. Increasing strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility through light weight training, brisk walking or jogging, and stretching and yoga can not only improve longevity and confidence, but can also decrease the risk of falls and accidents for aging individuals.

By addressing the needs of your aging parents, they’ll feel more confident in their own home, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that mom and dad are safe.