Smiling family member showing resident information on a digital tablet.

Ideas for Safe and Fun Occupational Therapy Activities for Adults

The month of April is National Occupational Therapy Month. At Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Dixon, Ill., we celebrate our occupational therapy (OT) team daily! We know the value they bring to our seniors and the benefits OT provides as part of a care plan.

If you are new to the world of occupational therapy, you may wonder what it is and how occupational therapy exercises help seniors. The American Occupational Therapy Association defines OT as a program that helps people to take part in activities they enjoy by taking a therapeutic approach to daily activities. For seniors, occupational therapy frequently includes providing support for the physical and cognitive changes associated with age.

Occupational Therapy Goals for Geriatrics

Once your elderly loved one is involved in an occupational therapy program, like the one at Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, the OT team will design a series of exercises, put support systems in place and give suggestions on changes to daily activities. These efforts are all designed to help your loved one meet the occupational therapy goals for geriatrics.

If you would like to help your loved one meet his or her occupational therapy goals, it helps to get SMART! The SMART method is a tool to help you and your loved one remember the goals, execute the care plan and track progress. Here is a breakdown of the SMART method:

  • Specific – make clear exactly what you want to accomplish
  • Measurable – track your progress in a way you understand
  • Achievable – outline the steps you need take to reach your goal
  • Relevant – be sure that the goal fits in with current and future needs
  • Time-Based – identify a target completion date and set up check-ins along the way to keep you on track

Occupational Therapy Activities for Adults

For residents at Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, and other communities that provide OT care, the occupational therapy program is integrated into a larger care plan. Much of the OT activities are supervised, but there is still work each person can do on their own. Doing your own occupational therapy exercises is a great way to help reach your goals. Here are some suggestions for occupational therapy activities for adults that can be done independently:

Memory games. Difficulty staying focused is a common challenge of aging and keeping your memory sharp can help. Many OT exercises are designed to improve memory and mental recall. If you are on your own, you can do crossword puzzles, put together actual puzzles, do craft activities, read or play games like Sodoku to keep your mind in motion!

Relaxation and rest methods. Exercises to reduce anxiety and tension are popular parts of OT programs for seniors. Breathing exercises are an important aspect of physical therapy because they help the patient to put their body into a state of rest. Breathing exercises can be done on your own and can even help you improve the quality of your sleep if you do them before bed or naptime!

Leg extensions. Muscle and joint pain are a common complaint for elderly OT patients. Leg extensions are a simple, equipment-free activity that can help stretch the muscles and improve range of motion.

In general, occupational therapy exercises are designed to help patients enjoy an improved quality of life. If you have specific OT questions or would like to learn more about OT exercise programs, contact us at Dixon Rehab at 815-284-3393.

Occupational Therapy Exercises for Seniors with Chronic Illnesses

Many OT programs are designed to help seniors build back strength and balance after a prolonged illness or a surgery. However, others are created to support patients with chronic diseases. A different approach may be taken when providing OT services to patients with conditions that will continue to worsen over time. Here are a few examples:

Occupational therapy activities for elderly with dementia

In this circumstance, occupational therapists will begin by identifying the difficulties of the patient and how easily the patient can function independently doing day-to-day activities. Once a care plan is established and goals are in place, the OT will help to adapt the patient’s environment to support the patient’s needs. Doing things like using labels to mark doors and cabinets or adding dementia-friendly clocks to the living space are common practices.

Occupational therapy treatment ideas for orthopedic patients

For patients with orthopedic conditions, like arthritis, or those who are recovering from joint surgery, an OT program will work to help the patient resume activities and practice self-care. Occupational therapy exercises for orthopedic patients will focus on safety and strength-building. Grab bars may be installed in the living area and all fall hazards will be removed.

Planning for Your Future

Even if you are not currently in need of skilled nursing or rehabilitation care, it is important to understand what options are available. While occupational therapy exercises can be done independently, the oversight of a rehab professional is a critical part of success.

At Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, our care is specific to each patient. We want to build a care plan that supports your goals, your lifestyle and your plans for the future. With our team of specialized therapists and physicians, we are able to offer services in the areas of Gerontology, Physiatry, Psychiatry, Nephrology, Neurology, occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy. Contact us today to schedule a tour!