AGING IN PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS CAN HELP!!
We had a recent lecture on this, and I’m just going to hit a few high points in terms of interesting stuff…just my own understanding on how “aging in place” works based on lecture, textbook, and my own ideas….
First of all, we all hear in the news about how the Baby Boomers are aging and since there are so many of them, that’s an issue we need to really face. And it’s not like people beg to go into nursing homes – ideally, it seems like most people would want to “age in place” and have their home be accommodating to their growing gerontological needs. People thrive in their own homes, with their own furniture and their own memories, rather than being in sterile and impersonal (or at the very least, unfamiliar) environments. If architects, contractors, and the general population started asking for universal designs or homes that could easily accommodate changes, life could get a lot easier for people. Most people just don’t think about it until it is too late – either they no longer have the money, or the energy, or the ability.
Some modifications are simple and somewhat cheap – non-concrete wheelchair ramps, grab bars in the bathroom, lever handles instead of door knobs elevated toilet seats, firmer and higher furniture, etc. Other modifications go a lot more in-depth and can include widening hallways for wheelchair access, concrete wheelchair ramps, raised dishwashers, enlarging the bathroom, building a roll-in shower, making counters that can go up or down with a button, and more.
Basically, someone could go to an OT (especially one who specializes in this kind of thing) and say, hey, I have these issues, or my house is like this – how can we make my house universally accessible, or how can I at least make some changes that will make the aging process a little easier to handle? Based on the person’s budget and remodeling possibilities, the OT can take various routes with it, from recommending certain assistive devices to a huge remodel. Obviously, the OT is not the one actually doing the construction – an architect and trusted contractor are needed for this part of it.
Home modification can seem pretty simple, but it can be the difference between being able to live at home in peace for many more years, or having to go to a nursing home. This is especially huge for the growing population of Alzheimer’s patients, who do best with old memories and routines – the change to a new routine and house arrangement can be very confusing and difficult.
So…my post was possibly rather anti-climactic after the big build-up…go Google “Aging in Place” to learn more, and realize that occupational therapists can play a big role in helping with transitions, adjustments, modifications, suggestions, etc. Dear Abby needs to start recommending OTs for all the concerned sons and daughters who write in about their parents!
I’m going to c/p several comments I got when I first mentioned “Aging in Place”, because I really appreciated the input!
aginginplace has left a new comment on your post “Part 2 of our 1st few days of OT school…with OT …”:
I am an “aging program specialist” with the U.S. Administration on Aging. My expertise is in neighborhood programs for older adults living independently regardless of their challenges in doing so. I use the Google feature of tracking web information on the topic of “aging in place” and your blog appeared in my report this morning. I am glad you found the topic of interest! Sometimes students in the health professions see only older adults with physical and mental health limitations. I work full time at age 66, but in my small agency of less than 100 professionals, we have two full time WWII veterans – one 86 and the other 90! However all of us “older folks” are really appreciative of what you are learning and what you will be doing for seniors (and others) in the future!
From Keith, who also appreciates OT students, and keeps giving me ideas for posts!: It was great to read about the aging in place discussion. I’m a proponent of that concept and live it every day. Well, not the aging part, LOL, but the concept of having attendants in the home, workplace, home modifications, etc. This past summer, I had a semi-automatic door installed at my house. The remote control is velcroed to my wheelchair’s control box. Velcro is a miracle fabric!
I’m going to go for the night. Tomorrow, be prepared for REALLY COOL ELECTION FLIERS!!!!!!!!!!! OT STUDENTS, GO TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS!