If you are eligible for home health and have an illness, injury or condition that makes it difficult to do everyday activities, Amedisys home health occupational therapy (OT) may help. Losing the ability to do things that used to be easy, such as putting on shoes, holding a pencil or making a meal can be a frustrating part of aging or rehabilitation. Occupational therapy for adults may help you regain a sense of independence, safety, choice and control in the comfort of home.
WHAT IS HOME HEALTH OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY?
Through specialized activities and adaptive tools, you’ll learn to more easily complete household tasks and personal care like bathing and grooming. You may also learn ways to make your home safer or cope with loss of function due to illness or injury. The home health occupational therapist will provide education and advocate for your needs.
Occupational therapists are trained professionals who help people learn self-care skills, overcome physical challenges, and manage emotional and social issues. At Amedisys, they have specialized knowledge and education, including completion of an approved occupational therapy program with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in occupational therapy. Occupational therapy assistants have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Both OTs and OTAs are licensed by the state as well as the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY VS. PHYSICAL THERAPY
What is the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy? While both can be provided as part of home health care, they serve different purposes and are coordinated to meet the patient’s needs. Occupational therapy at home works on strategies with the patient to safely perform needed daily activities or “occupations.” Physical therapy helps improve patients’ strength, balance and mobility by treating the physical source of the patient’s issue.
For example, if someone is recovering after hip replacement, the physical therapist works to restore mobility in the hip and leg. The occupational therapist may teach the patient to wash dishes while sitting on a stool or use a reacher or shoehorn to minimize bending over. Doctors often order both physical therapy and occupational therapy because they work together to help the patient stay safe at home while they recover or manage an illness.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY GOALS
Our occupational therapists take a holistic, patient-centered approach to care. This means we tailor the care plan to fit your needs and current level of function. In addition, you are an important part of the treatment team, and your needs and home health OT goals help mold your treatment plan. Here are a few examples of occupational therapy goals for adults:
- Ability to meaningfully participate in daily activities
- Recover from illness or injury, if possible
- Maintain or improve skills over time
- Improved quality of life
- Increased independence
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY SERVICES
In-home occupational therapy for adults can include a wide range of services. At Amedisys, each patient receives a different treatment plan based on their needs and doctor’s orders. Some examples of occupational therapy services include:
- Occupational therapy evaluations to understand your needs, abilities and goals and create a treatment plan
- Home evaluations to assess fall risk and make recommendations to improve safety
- Recommendations for adaptive equipment, such as shower chairs, grab bars and reachers, and training on how to use it for activities of daily living
- Strategies to enhance your ability to adhere to your medication regimen
- Education for family members/caregivers about disease management
- Therapeutic exercise and activity to improve specific skills needed to complete activities of daily living
- Coordination activities to improve self-feeding, grooming and dressing skills
- Energy conservation techniques and/or joint protection in home activities
- Strategies for managing stress, anxiety, poor vision and other issues
- Practical suggestions for leisure activities, social interaction, meal planning and different ways to complete tasks
- Identify ways to compensate for deficits such as low vision or decreased fine motor skills or coordination (for example, teaching new ways to manipulate pills and containers)
CAN I RECEIVE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY AT HOME?
Patients must meet home health eligibility criteria for Medicare to cover occupational therapy services. These include:
- A need for skilled care, such as nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy or an ongoing need for occupational therapy; and
- Being under the care of a physician who has created a home health plan of care; and
- Not being able to leave home without assistance (for example, from another person or a device like a walker or wheelchair) or having a condition that makes leaving home medically unsafe.
Do you qualify for home health? Learn more about eligibility requirements and how to qualify for home health.
EXAMPLES OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ACTIVITIES BY DIAGNOSIS
Occupational therapy at home can help people with a variety of health conditions. Your healthcare team will help put together a plan that meets your individualized needs. Some examples of occupational therapy activities for adults, by diagnosis, include:
A diabetes diagnosis requires changes in various daily routines. Occupational therapy can help you set up healthy routines for blood sugar monitoring, exercising, meal planning and foot care. It can also train you on strategies to compensate for vision, sensory or motor loss that might make daily activities difficult.
With occupational therapy, patients with heart failure may learn strategies to conserve energy, such as reducing demands of activities and stress management to avoid exacerbations. The OT therapist may also suggest ways to engage in appropriate physical activity. Occupational therapists also offer guidance on incorporating new routines into your day such as weighing yourself, eating a modified diet and monitoring your symptoms.
Our occupational therapy practitioners can introduce strategies to conserve energy and self-monitor COPD symptoms to prevent exacerbations. They may also provide tips for stress management and pacing yourself with activities.
Stroke can impact many aspects of a person’s daily life. Patients want to get back to doing the tasks they were able to do before the stroke and maintain the highest level of functioning possible. Examples of occupational therapy activities for adults with stroke include:
- Retraining in self-care skills like feeding yourself
- Addressing deficits like sensory loss, weakness or cognitive impairments
- Modifying tasks or the home environment to maximize independence
Conditions Affecting Bones and Joints
Fractures, amputations, and other strains and injuries can make daily tasks difficult. Our occupational therapists help identify modifications you can make to achieve your home health OT goals and provide training on prosthetics or other adaptive devices.
Through occupational therapy at home activities, you can learn how to manage pain and complete tasks without straining your joints.
Mental Health Conditions
Occupational therapy at home can help with depression in older adults, as well as anxiety and other mental health disorders. Practitioners may focus on specific activities and self-awareness skills to manage mental health symptoms. You’ll learn how to structure your daily schedule and break down tasks into manageable pieces so you can do the activities that are important to you.
Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
Dementia impacts communication, memory, self-care and other abilities. Amedisys occupational therapists can offer tips for improving home safety, simplifying tasks and providing sensory stimulation. Patients work one-on-one with home health occupational therapists to improve memory strategies. They may also recommend setting up the environment to make tasks easier for the patient. Loved ones and caregivers can get tips on supporting patients with cognitive limitations in ways that reduce agitation and confusion.
Amedisys occupational therapists help patients prepare for, and get the support they need after, a knee, shoulder or hip replacement. During recovery and rehab, patients often need help getting in and out of the shower, going up and down stairs, getting dressed, and doing other daily tasks at home. Occupational therapy helps ensure you have the equipment you need to return home and recommend techniques for doing daily tasks.
People with MS may have difficulty dressing, bathing and doing other activities and get easily fatigued. In occupational therapy, you may work on simplifying activities so you require less energy and using adaptive equipment or devices to complete tasks.
Occupational therapy for adults with cerebral palsy often focuses on increasing motor functioning, processing sensory input and lessening limitations.
Occupational therapists can help people with Parkinson’s disease optimize their stability to prevent falls and safely transfer to the commode and in and out of the shower/bath. They also offer strategies for safely completing activities of daily living and managing fatigue.
*The above are examples only, and care plans may differ between patients with the same diagnosis.
IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY RIGHT FOR ME?
Many people ask, “Why do I need occupational therapy?” Here are a few signs you may need occupational therapy services, along with common reasons for a doctor’s order:
- You’re struggling with self-care activities like bathing, dressing and grooming.
- You’re having difficulty balancing, such as leaning to one side, holding onto furniture or the wall to walk around, or taking an unusually long time to do tasks like taking off your coat
- You have weak grip strength, which makes it difficult to hold onto objects.
- You’re losing the ability to do hobbies you enjoy.
- You’ve been missing doctor’s appointments or mixing up medications.
- You’re having motor problems such as poor coordination, or difficulty writing or tying shoes.
- You’re having sensory input issues, such as overreacting to touch or sound or being unaware of sensation such as feeling the temperature of water or difficulty finding items in a pocket or purse.
- You’re finding it difficult to solve problems, pay attention or stay organized.
Home health occupational therapy with Amedisys helps with these and other changes, so you can continue to live independently at home for as long as possible.
BENEFITS OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FOR THE ELDERLY
In many ways, the home is an ideal place to receive OT therapy. Home-based occupational therapists can see how you live firsthand, which helps them identify challenges you face every day. In the home setting, the therapist can get to know your needs and goals, see how your living space is set up, and make personalized recommendations. Another benefit is that family members and caregivers can be involved in treatment and learn strategies to help.
The biggest benefit is in home occupational therapy with Amedisys helps patients stay safer at home. Here are some other benefits of occupational therapy for the elderly:
Most people want to stay home and continue doing everyday tasks. But with age and certain medical conditions, basic tasks like bathing, dressing, grooming and preparing meals can become more difficult. In home occupational therapy can help people do the daily activities that enable them to stay independent. Occupational therapy at home activities can improve physical, sensory, cognitive and social function, allowing some patients to recover and get back to doing what they love.
Our occupational therapists can assess your home, including the layout and high-risk places like stairs, floors and bathtubs, and make recommendations for ways to make it safer. Examples of common home modifications include removing fall risks, rearranging walkways through the house, and making recommendations for installing equipment like handrails, grab bars, slip resistant flooring and medical alert systems.
Older adults often have multiple chronic conditions that are treated with multiple medications. About one-third of older adults take five or more prescription medications. Taking more medications increases the risk of an error or negative interaction.
Amedisys occupational therapists can help patients adhere to their care plan by assisting with medication management. For example, a therapist may work with you to organize a pillbox or color-code medications to minimize the risk of medication mistakes.
Comfort and Pain Management
Our goal is to change the way you do tasks to make you more comfortable and effective. For example, a patient with joint pain may practice range of motion exercises, learn how to move differently, and receive training on adapting activities and using safe body mechanics to be more comfortable.
The risk for eye diseases and vision impairment increases after age 40 and can make it difficult for seniors to live independently and maintain a good quality of life. Our OT therapists can teach you exercises aimed at improving your vision.
If vision can’t be restored, occupational therapists can teach you skills to manage vision loss. They may also recommend home modifications to help minimize the risk of falls and injuries, such as removing clutter, adding lighting, color-coding objects and placing bright tape on steps or important buttons.
Memory and Cognition
Occupational therapy practitioners provide care for a wide range of cognitive issues, from normal forgetfulness that comes with aging to dementia. We can help you sharpen your cognition through participating in familiar daily activities. In later stages of memory loss, we focus on improving quality of life. Occupational therapy services include education and support for caregivers to help them cope with personality changes and memory loss and avoid confusing the patient.
Falls affect one in four Americans age 65+ each year, sometimes with serious health consequences. OT therapy can help reduce fall risk by teaching patients how to make their environment safer and addressing vision, balance, safety and other issues, while staying as active as possible.
Occupational therapy has psychosocial benefits as well. New diagnoses and loss of abilities can lead to depression, anxiety and loneliness. One of the occupational therapy goals is to help patients find the motivation and confidence in their skills to push through self-doubt and grief.
Emotional and Social Health
Seniors may become depressed, anxious or lonely when they can’t do the things they need and want to do. Patients can open up to their home health team about challenges and concerns. Amedisys occupational therapists can help older adults manage functional limitations and focus on what they can do.
Caregiver Education and Support
Caregiving is a difficult job with emotional, physical and financial demands. Occupational therapists not only help patients, but also their caregivers. They can teach healthy coping strategies, educate caregivers on their loved one’s condition and needs, and teach them how to help their loved one continue to make progress after home health OT ends.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY HOME VISITS
The first OT therapy visit is typically an assessment. It often takes longer than the following visits. During an occupational therapy evaluation, the therapist may review your:
- Medical history and medications
- Concerns and goals
- Ability to complete self-care tasks and light home management activities
- Cognitive abilities, such as your understanding of your condition and ability to problem-solve
- Sensory abilities, such as vision and hearing
- Physical abilities, such as balance and ability to move around safely
- Eating and sleeping patterns
- Routine for managing your medications
- Home environment for fall risks like poor lighting or loose rugs
The occupational therapy evaluation sets the foundation for your personalized care plan. Next, the therapist, in collaboration with your doctor, plans activities and strategies to help you achieve your goals and sets up a schedule for future visits. As treatment proceeds, your therapist monitors your progress.
After the first visit, the occupational therapist comes to your home to provide education and support and work on activities that will help you achieve your goals. They may take your vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. The OT will also watch for health improvements or declines, so the rest of the clinical team is aware of any changing needs. They adjust your care plan as needed to help you meet your goals. The frequency and length of visits depend on your needs and doctor’s orders.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY GOALS
One of the first questions you’ll hear from an Amedisys occupational therapy practitioner is, “What matters to you?” Your description of the things you want to be able to do helps mold your care plan.
Examples of home health OT goals include:
- Maintain or regain independence through daily living skills such as bathing, dressing and grooming
- Regain skills and abilities that were lost due to an injury, illness or surgery, or adapt to changes in abilities
- Prevent further loss of abilities
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Help guard against medication mistakes
- Keep you safer at home, where you feel most comfortable
- Improve your self-confidence
- Encourage communication and social interaction
- Reduce stress
DOES OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY WORK?
Research shows that OT therapy can greatly improve your quality of life. Results often depend on the patient and caregiver’s openness to learning new ways of doing daily tasks. In home occupational therapy is often well-liked by patients because it helps them stay home. It is also effective because practitioners can tailor care to patients’ needs and home environment, watch to see how they are progressing, and adjust the care plan based on what they see.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
Occupational therapy services can be life-changing for patients who need help getting back to their daily routines or learning new ways of doing basic tasks. As a specialized field, many people aren’t familiar with this type of care. Here, we’ll set the facts straight around some common misconceptions about occupational therapy:
1. Occupational Therapy is the Same as Physical Therapy
Patients can receive both at the same time, depending on their needs, and they work well together. However, OT and PT are separate therapies that serve different purposes. So, what is the difference between OT and PT? Occupational therapy focuses on helping patients do daily tasks like eating, showering and dressing. Physical therapy helps improve the patient’s ability to move and builds strength, balance and range of motion.
2. Occupational Therapists Help People Get Jobs
The word “occupation” is used to describe what we want and need to do each day. In home health, this does not involve getting a job. You can think about it as what “occupies” our time, the activities we need to do to take care of ourselves and what we enjoy doing. OTs can help make meaningful activities safer and easier. Examples include grooming, dressing, bathing, medication management and making simple meals.
3. Most Occupational Therapists Work in Hospitals
OT practitioners can work in hospitals as well as a variety of other settings including schools, community centers, outpatient therapy and in-home occupational therapy.
4. Occupational Therapists Are Similar to Home Health Aides
Home health aides provide hands-on help with tasks like bathing and dressing. In contrast, occupational therapists are skilled professionals who offer tools and strategies to help patients manage their own self-care tasks. OTs do not complete the activity for the patient. Rather, they train the patient on techniques to become more independent with the task on their own. OTs also help with a wide variety of other issues including social, mental, cognitive and physical challenges.
HOW MUCH DOES OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY COST?
For patients paying out-of-pocket, occupational therapy costs depend on various factors, including where the patient lives, where they receive OT visits and the type of care they need.
HOW TO GET STARTED
At Amedisys, we provide home health occupational therapy for adults, along with other home health services, in various locations nationwide. We employ hundreds of occupational therapists who help empower patients to do daily activities with greater ease and safety.