What is an occupational therapist?

Eating, dressing,
getting in and out of a chair. In the course of daily life, we use many skills
to accomplish even “simple” tasks. Walking or using a fork is
surprisingly complex. Nerve signals and muscles have to coordinate in a very
specific order. A healthy body is a marvel!

We take these
skills for granted until something interrupts our abilities. Arthritis, for
instance, can make it hard to grasp a fork. A stroke may require a right-handed
person to learn to do things with the left hand. The tremor of Parkinson’s can
make dressing a challenge.

therapy can be used to help your loved one

  • remain
    at home despite a chronic condition;
  • recover
    from a surgery or other health event;
  • improve
    the ability to accomplish specific tasks or activities.

therapists have special training to help people overcome new challenges with
the daily tasks of living. A therapist might show your loved one some exercises
for better coordination. They might recommend special equipment or supplies.
Maybe all that’s needed is a rearrangement of furniture in the house. Or a
slightly different approach to doing the same thing.

therapy can be provided at home or in an outpatient clinic. It usually starts
with a home visit. The therapist will

  • watch
    your loved one perform various tasks;
  • evaluate
    the home for safety and convenience;
  • recommend
    exercises and/or home modifications;
  • consider
    best options for transportation;
  • develop
    goals based on your relative’s abilities, interest, and budget.

Participate in the
visit if you can. That way you learn what might help your family member live to
the fullest in spite of limitations.

Ask the doctor for
a referral

If you think your loved one would benefit from knowledgeable guidance, ask the
doctor for a referral. Occupational therapy is covered by Medicare. Also by
Medicaid and most private insurances.

Does life seem harder than it was?
If you notice your loved one struggling to do things that used to be a simple part of daily life, he or she might benefit from the services of an occupational therapist. As the Metro DC expert in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates have seen firsthand how much a simple device or a change in approach can transform an elder’s self-sufficiency. If you are concerned about a loved one, give us a call at 301-593-5285.