As residents of Coronado and elsewhere get older and begin to lose some of our physical abilities and may need more home health care, the question often comes up: “How can we retain them?”
It’s a great question, says the team at Accredited Home Care, and something that their trained professionals can have a role in addressing.
The home health care service offers the skills of a variety of trained professionals whose goals include helping clients regain or rebuild certain skills and abilities which can help their overall health and quality of life. Perhaps they were lost due to trauma or a health condition like a stroke. Being able to show improvement and independence may be able to help them stay in their homes longer as opposed to having to relocate to an assisted living environment.
Although these communities provide quality care, many clients and their families/loved ones prefer to stay at home if given the option and they’re physically able to do so, but part of doing so requires being able to perform certain household and personal tasks and get around safely.
Not being able to accomplish some of these basic tasks or living in unsafe, even dangerous conditions can lead family members or concerned health care providers to recommend a move.
The opposite is true as well: if it’s clear that someone has adequate skills and has taken steps to make their environment safer, then it’s easier for everyone that they can stay safely at home.
The skills that can help people stay in their homes can be improved through a series of exercises called occupational therapy. Although some may think of this type of therapy as something to help people get back into the workforce after an injury or disabling health condition, it also can benefit people who simply want to make sure they have the proper skills to function independently.
If you’re curious about whether you need occupational therapy, look at your performance and abilities in some of these areas:
The kitchen. Kitchens are places where clients can store food, prepare meals and also clean up afterward. It’s also a place with a variety of potential hazards, including the stove, which could catch food or other items on fire if someone forgets about what they’re cooking or becomes distracted. The oven is also a source of fire hazard and people that’s easy to forget about. The refrigerator can use some screenings for safety reasons as well – old spoiled food needs to be removed regularly, before someone who can’t read labels well or see food may accidentally consume something spoiled and make themselves sick. A kitchen could also be a challenge for those with mobility problems; they may have problems bending or stretching to get things from cupboards.
The bathroom. Considered by many to be the most dangerous room, the area presents all sorts of hazards, from potentially wet and slippery floors to hard, pointy surfaces. Occupational therapy can offer suggestions for people to get in and out of the bathtub or shower safely. An occupational therapist can also suggest a variety of tools and devices to make these tasks safer and easier, everything from a shower seat to more handles and stickers for better traction. Handles or a higher seat for the toilet can also make it easier to get on and off well. Being able to brush teeth and perform basic grooming tasks such as shaving and putting on make-up can also go a long way in making someone feel more independent and in control.
The bedroom. Being able to get in and out of your bed safely is vital for someone who wants to show their independence. But if you don’t know how to do it properly, especially if your health and mobility have changed, you might need guidance to do so properly and effectively. So an occupational therapist can help teach the skills of getting up and getting down. Then, they can continue to train clients on other areas of daily routines, such as taking off night clothes and putting on day clothes. An occupational therapist can work on tasks like fastening buttons or the stretching skills needed to put on pants, socks, and shirt.
Other areas. Occupational therapists can also look for other hazards in the house and suggest ways to remove or modify them. For instance, while area rugs can look good and cut down on energy usage, they also can increase the possibilities of tripping or catching on feet, a cane or walker. These scenarios may cause potential falls, something seniors especially want to avoid. Besides plenty of pain and a risk of damage, seniors may take a long time to heal.
If you don’t know much about occupational therapy, this month is an opportunity to learn more. April is Occupational Therapy Month, where providers are encouraged to educate their communities about the value of these types of procedures and general usefulness.