I met occupational therapist (OT) Netta Farber at a caregiver conference over the summer and learned what OTs can do to help seniors and their caregivers.
OTs perform home inspections, identify potential hazards, and make recommendations for modifications that will allow seniors to remain at home — to age in place. The most common problems Farber finds when she does home inspections include lack of grab bars in the shower, around the toilet, and on the side of the bed. Also, many seniors lack a shower bench and raised toilet seat. OTs can bring in samples of needed materials and make recommendations on what to install. Insurance, including Medicare, does not cover OT home inspections.
Medicare Part B does cover OT outpatient services that involve teaching patients how to function when they return home from the hospital or a nursing home. Skills include transferring in and out of bed and the shower, functioning in the kitchen, and activities of daily living such as dressing and using the toilet.
What questions do you wish clients would ask you? I asked Farber. “I wish they’d ask, ‘What habits could I change?’ and ‘How can I make my life simpler?’” she responded. But seniors are often resistant to change. That’s why an OT is more likely than family members to convince a senior to make needed changes. So when you look for an OT to help your loved one, look for someone who is not pushy and works to build rapport, Farber suggested.
(Editor’s Note: Netta Farber works at Physical Therapy 4 You in Cary, NC.)