An Occupational Therapist’s Tips to Staying Independent

An Occupational Therapist’s Tips to Staying Independent

April celebrates National Occupational Therapy Month and Stacy Rooney, an Occupational Therapist and Regional Director of Rehabilitation for Athena, offers insight and tips on keeping and maintaining your independence.

Stay Moving

Stay active. Medical experts say movement is medicine, and though that may sound silly, there is truth to it. Staying active is important no matter what age you are or what your capabilities might be. Choose an activity you enjoy doing that does not feel like a chore and you will likely do it consistently. For some, it’s golfing, swimming, walking, cycling, or dancing. You might also find that not only is your activity great for your physical health, but can be a great way to engage with others. Movement is also a great remedy if you are struggling with pain or aches, especially first thing in the morning.

Make Friends

Strike up conversations with folks you have things in common with. Ensuring you have social contact through clubs and activities is great for your mental health and will keep you motivated to move.

Watch Your Feet

Proper footwear can help prevent falls and allow you to safely participate in the activities you enjoy. If your footwear is lacking support or feels worn, it might be time to get some new shoes. As a side note, ensuring you are properly fitted for shoes can also help prevent falls.

Tips on Fall Prevention:

  • Look at your surroundings inside and outside of your home. Clutter, throw rugs, low chairs/surfaces, poor lighting, and old unsupportive footwear can all contribute to falling and potentially compromise your independence. Make sure you have clear paths in hallways and near stairs, nonskid mats in the shower or bathtub, a railing near an entrance step or on your bed, ensuring throw rugs are secure to the floor, and if you have pets, be aware of where they are so you do not trip over them. For outside, make sure you have ice melt/sand for walkways and driveways, and avoid any part that is uneven, cracked, or has debris that could cause you to fall.
  • Make sure you have a cell phone and keep it on you with emergency numbers that can be quickly accessed if needed. A life alert/emergency line is also a great idea if you live alone and fall or need any assistance in an emergency.
  • A therapist can get you independent and keep you independent. An occupational, physical, or speech and language therapist has clinical knowledge and will provide you with interventions to improve and maintain your strength, balance, and safety all of which will allow you to stay independent.

If you feel you are starting to lose some independence, seek out a therapist in your community who does outpatient care or home care therapy. Get involved in your local senior center, as they are a great resource for any services or equipment you may need.

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