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A Balancing Act: Simple Steps to Help Seniors See the Need for Home Modifications

By Mary Becker-Omvig, MS, OTR/Lfa

(Page 3 of 7)

What are you not doing now that you used to be able to do, or that you still want to do?

What are the reasons you donít do those things? 

Which feel unsafe and which are you unable to do?

Itís important to problem-solve together. If you strongly impose your own ideas, they run the risk of being ignored. Approach the subject by letting your family members know that you are concerned about their health and safety and assure them that you donít assume that getting older means self-awareness and understanding are diminished.

3. Consult a Professional 

The truth is, no matter how prepared you might be, no matter what kind of approach you take, you should count on a certain amount of resistance to your offer of help. A soft, patient approach is key, but in the end, it may not be all that is required.

An occupational therapist can match an environment to a personís abilities so they can do what they want and need to do at home. The occupational therapistís unique, three-pronged approach Ė looking at the person, the task and the environment Ė results in an individualized assessment that matches a personís physical and cognitive abilities to the features of the physical environment allowing them to do what they want and need to do. It enables people to live what they consider to be full and meaningful lives.

To be honest, while utilizing the resources of an occupational therapist may provide enormous benefit to your loved one, it also relieves an enormous amount of pressure from the caregiver. The external professional can come in and ask questions in a way that produces the kind of responses that help lead to the development of an action plan.

An OT can walk into the home and immediately begin to identify what a person is doing well and can emphasize the personís success. For example, she might say, ďI notice you have cleared everything out which really helps in preventing falls. Are there other areas that you would like to focus on?Ē


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