April is Occupational Therapy Month. Spring is here and it’s time to get moving! For seniors, occupational therapy is designed to help them live a more productive and independent life. Here’s a look at the benefits.
As you age, you want to be able to maintain both an adequate level of autonomy and the ability to perform activities of daily living on your own. Occupational therapy exercises for seniors focus on activities that allow you to maintain independence. According to the British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists, specific activities focus on helping you overcome physical, mental or social problems as a result of disability or aging. Consult your doctor or occupational therapist before performing exercises.
This article, from LiveStrong.com, goes through several types of exercises, including Relaxation, Range of Motion and Memory Exercises:
Occupational therapists often receive referrals from doctors and other health care professionals to treat seniors suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and stress. According to editors Ann Turner, Margaret Foster and Sybil E. Johnson in the book, “Occupational Therapy and Physical Dysfunction: Principles, Skills and Practice,” occupational therapists may teach relaxation methods to help alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety related to certain physical and mental conditions. Specific relaxation methods may include guided visualization or deep breathing. Deep breathing exercises are easy to perform and can help to reduce stress and tension. To perform a deep breathing exercise, sit on a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Place your hand on your stomach and concentrate on your breath, trying to allow the thoughts to flow out of your mind. Take a deep inhale, pause and then exhale slowly. Practice this method of breathing whenever you feel tense or anxious.
Range-of-motion exercises are often helpful for seniors suffering from conditions such as arthritis or other forms of joint and muscle pain. Seniors may be limited in their performance of certain activities of daily living because of pain, and range-of-motion exercises may help to alleviate certain conditions. There are various range-of-motion exercises that may help, depending on the origin of your symptoms. An easy seated exercise that you can perform to increase your range of motion in your legs is the leg extension. Sit in a chair with your hands by your sides and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly extend one leg out in front of you, hold for a few seconds, then repeat on the opposite leg.
Memory issues tend to be a common problem for seniors. Occupational therapists may use a variety of techniques and memory games to help improve your ability to remember certain things, such as your daily routine or how to perform certain activities, according to the British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists. Occupational therapists may recommend reading magazines, doing crossword puzzles or specific arts and crafts projects to help with memory issues. You can find many types of memory exercises online and in specific memory enhancement books for seniors.
A further article on this site goes into Occupational Exercises after a Finger Fracture.