Receiving Occupational Therapy in Assisted Living Facilities

assisted living facilitiesSee what you can expect from the occupational therapist at your assisted living facility.

When you first start your search for assisted living facilities, you may not be familiar with the different types of health professionals they make available to you. In addition to the certified nursing assistants (CNAs), registered nurses (RNs) and other staff members, you will likely have the benefit of working with a physical therapist (PT), occupational therapist (OT), speech therapist and/or recreational therapist during your stay there.

Types of Therapy Available at Assisted Living Facilities

At assisted living facilities PTs, OTs, speech therapists and a growing number of recreational therapists work together to create and implement holistic plans for the health and wellbeing of residents. Their work includes injury recovery, healthful living, communication, adaptation and even socialization on all levels. These services provide you with a level of care far beyond that offered in hospitals and other medically-focused institutions. And across the board, resident experiences at assisted living facilities attest to the benefits they bring.

Occupational Therapy Specific to Assisted Living Facilities

While registered occupational therapists (OTRs) are trained to work with people with varying needs throughout the human lifespan, those who focus their expertise on assisted living facilities spend much of their time helping residents enjoy as much autonomy as possible given their unique strengths and limitations.

Nearly all residents in assisted living facilities will meet with an OT at some point during their stay. Some residents experience medical emergencies that necessitate a transfer to a rehabilitation facility where they will receive between three and six OT sessions per week until they are able to move forward. Others will meet with an OT at their own assisted living facilities (many times in their own rooms) to receive recommendations for adaptive equipment that will ease discomfort, aid in stability or decrease their chances of injury.

Typical Equipment Used in Assisted Living Facilities

The types of adaptive equipment available through occupational therapists range in size and scope. Depending on the needs of each resident in the assisted living facility, an OT may recommend small, common aids such as "reachers," or long sticks with hooks at the end that help residents pick up small items without bending. "Dressing sticks" help residents with limited motion or grasping capabilities dress themselves. And "sock aids" as well as long shoe horns are commonly used by residents who have trouble grasping socks or bending over to slip on their shoes. Also, raised toilet seats and different types of bathtub benches help with safe toileting and bathing.

OTs at assisted living facilities can also recommend different types of larger equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers. In addition, they can recommend and train other aides to use equipment designed for residents with higher levels of need.

Meeting with Your Assisted Living Facility OT

Assisted living facilities typically require each potential resident to complete an RN or physician screening prior to joining the facility. If the nurse or doctor recommends OT services, an onsite appointment will be scheduled. You can expect the OT to spend time talking with you about your daily routines, as well as any issues you might be concerned about. He will come equipped with any number of simple diagnostic tests designed to identify additonal areas of concern. Driving, walking, bathing and completing household tasks are among those common areas. After diagnosing and presenting treatment plans, he will help train you and your assisted living facility aides to utilize any needed equipment. Follow-up appointments will ensure that any implemented changes bring about increased autonomy and wellbeing.

While it may seem difficult to master new skills and integrate new items into your everyday life, keep in mind that occupational therapy exists to help and not hinder your progress. Coming into your assisted living facility with an open mind and accepting the help as a method of self-empowerment will only benefit you in the long run. Remember, assisted living facilities are there to assist you in living out your absolute best life! And if using a "reacher" saves your back so you can pick up your great-grandchild when she visits, then it's all worth it.

Start Your Search for Assisted Living Facilities

Find local assisted living facilities with proven OT services by calling the toll-free number at the top of this page. Our expert elder care advisors can help you find that perfect assisted living facility today, free of charge. For more information about assisted living facilities, see our Family Resources and Assisted Living Information sections. Or search for facilities yourself by visiting our detailed database of assisted living in your area.