How to Prepare for Occupational Therapy at Home
In home occupational therapy for seniors can allow your loved one to remain independent in their home. This type of therapy is especially useful for those recovering from a stroke or surgery or who have a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s. Most patients who receive occupational therapy struggle with getting fully dressed, taking showers or baths, using the toilet, and standing for long periods of time. By developing skills through therapy to accomplish these tasks, your loved one can improve their quality of life.
While your in home occupational therapist will guide you through the process of receiving therapy, knowing what to expect will help you better advocate for your loved one’s care. To help you and your loved one prepare for what to expect when receiving in home occupational therapy, check out the following steps:
- Interview with the Occupational Therapist
Before receiving therapy, you and your loved one will get to meet with the occupational therapist for an interview. If your loved one’s medical records are available, the occupational therapist will have reviewed the records before the interview to understand their medical needs. The therapist will then interview your loved one to fill in gaps in the information and fully understand their situation. Some of the information the therapist will ask includes:
- Age and date of birth
- Referring physician
- Past medical history
It’s a good idea to have your loved one’s medical information gathered together before the interview for reference. This information should cover any allergies, medications, or pre-existing conditions your loved one has. The occupational therapist will also ask for detailed information about your loved one’s day-to-day routine prior to the incident that prompted the need for occupational therapy. To help create a comprehensive plan of care, you will be able to participate in the interview as well, and your presence is encouraged to help guide the conversation if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia.
After the initial interview, the therapist will assess your loved one’s general health and how to improve their ability to perform activities of daily living, or ADLs. This allows the therapist to understand how your loved one’s diagnosis is impacting their ability to remain independent and perform everyday tasks. During the physical assessment, occupational therapists are trained to assess the following:
- Pain or tenderness
- Vital signs
- Joint range of motion
- Coordination and proprioception (which is the ability to sense stimuli within the body regarding motion, position, and equilibrium)
- Skin health
- Muscle movement
Depending on your loved one’s needs, the therapist will also perform a cognitive assessment. This type of assessment is designed to evaluate your loved one’s mental health using these components:
- Orientation: Determining if the patient knows who they are, where they are, and general sense of time.
- Attention: If the patient has the ability to focus and process select information.
- Memory: Discovering if the patient can store and recall information in the short and long-term memory.
- Executive Functioning: Understanding if the patient can problem solve and plan.
By assessing these components, an occupational therapist can begin creating a plan of care to help your loved one manage their symptoms and improve their daily life.
Once the therapist understands your loved one’s needs and current level of ability, they will create goals for their in home occupational therapy treatment. The goals have to be measurable and related to the reason your loved one was referred.
An example of a short-term goal:
Within 3 weeks, the client will be able to complete basic grooming in the bathroom mirror by standing in 5-minute intervals.
An example of a long-term goal:
Within 6 months, the client will be able to dress their upper body independently in an unsupported sitting position.
Once goals have been set, the therapist will work with you to create a plan of care to achieve them. Usually, the plan has to be approved by a doctor. The plan of care will include how often your loved one will benefit from therapy, how long in home occupational therapy services will last, and what strategies will be used to reach the goals set.
To help your loved one receive the best care, it’s important to know their goals and plan of care. Ask the occupational therapist for a copy of the plan so you can help monitor your loved one’s progress, ensure they are performing their exercises, and help them make their therapy successful.
Now that a plan of care has been created, your loved one will start to participate in occupational therapy activities at home that follow their plan of care. On average, an in home occupational therapy visit lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and usually happens 1 to 3 times a week or more depending on your loved one’s goals. If needed, the therapist can also work with family caregivers to help develop ways to provide care and avoid burnout.
Once the therapy starts, the therapist will be in communication with you and other members of your home health team, including your loved one’s doctor, to keep everyone up to date on any developments. Aside from teaching your loved one to perform daily activities, an occupational therapist can also help arrange the home environment to prevent falls and preserve energy. Overall, the goal of the in home occupational therapy is to educate you and your loved one on how to perform daily tasks so they can remain in the home they know and love.
Is your loved one struggling to manage their health conditions or take care of their daily needs? If you answered yes, occupational therapy for seniors can be a great source of help and knowledge. We can help you find in home occupational therapy in your area. Contact us today.