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Occupational Therapy’s Role in Senior Centers

Occupational Therapy’s Role in Senior Centers

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Senior centers are an important community resource or older adults.Recognized as a designated ocal point by the Older Americans Act,
 senior centers help older adults to access programs and services thatpromote health and independence. Today, senior centers serve amultitude o purposes, including meal and nutrition sites, screeningclinics, recreational and ftness centers, social service agency branchofces, mental health counseling clinics, older worker employmentagencies, volunteer coordinating centers, and community meetingacilities. With each generation, senior centers continue to grow andevolve in order to help older adults age in place and age successully.
Occupational Therapy in Senior Centers
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants bringan understanding o the importance o participation and occupationor overall well-being to senior centers. Occupational therapypractitioners can fll a unique role by enhancing client-centeredprogramming in senior center communities.Occupational therapy practitioners can:Evaluate members’ needs and interests or specifc healtheducation programs, and then design programs aroundthese needs.Help members compensate or challenges they experience in activities o daily living (e.g., dressing and eeding),instrumental activities o daily living (e.g., driving and home management), leisure participation, socialparticipation, and productive activity (e.g., volunteering and employment). The occupational therapy interventionplan, developed in collaboration with the member, considers the member’s specifc conditions (e.g., chronic pain,arthritis), and develops strategies to help maintain or improve his or her saety and well-being.Develop educational programs to provide center participants who have a variety o conditions (e.g., vision andhearing impairments, mobility limitations) with all prevention, energy conservation, and other compensatorytechniques. Inormation can be delivered to individuals or groups about community mobility, environmentalmodifcations (e.g., bathtub bench, grab bars), and assistive devices (e.g., one-handed cutting board or mealpreparation, built-up eating utensils) to increase ease, saety, and independence with daily tasks.Assist participants with lie transitions. Occupational therapy programming designed to help address role transitionsand changes in routines associated with retirement, widowhood, caregiver role, and relocation can alleviate someo the anxiety associated with these changes. Opportunities or participants to recognize the commonalities intheir experiences and to gain problem-solving abilities to handle these transitions are just some o the ways thatoccupational therapy practitioners might support individuals at senior centers during these times.Create and implement health promotion programs to assist participants who wish to “redesign” their lives in orderto experience greater health-related quality o lie and well-being.
Programs can address the benefts o health-promoting behaviors, and potential barriers or ears that are preventing individuals rom participating in valuedlie activities. Occupational therapy practitioners provide a unique educational approach that allows participantsto analyze their own occupations, which then enables them to adapt their approach to everyday living or optimalwell-being.
Occupational Therapy’s Role in
Senior Centers
www.aota.org4720 Montgomery Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-3425Phone: 301-652-2682 TDD: 800-377-8555 Fax: 301-652-7711
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