I love stories, don’t you? I love that magical point when you cannot put down a book or when you realize you’re holding your breath at the edge of your seat ready to explode to aid the protagonist (main character) over the climactic struggle towards the end of the movie or book. Whether it’s the classic struggle between good vs. evil, the growth of a character through struggle and adversity, or the saying “goodbye” for the final time, we get to join a character in an adventure that is outside of our own. Read more
How Exercise Benefits the Aging Brain
While medical experts and doctors are searching for cures and vaccinations to some of the diseases that affect the older generations, others say that the answer is right in front of us. Many agree that the answer to an aging brain isn’t to cure the symptoms but to treat the problem. The problem with aging is that new cells aren’t birthed as quickly as they once did. You’ve probably seen this in your own life.
Minor cuts don’t seem to heal as fast as they once did and muscles take longer to recuperate from strain and stresses. That’s the sign that the body isn’t producing cells as fast as they do in children.
The brain is no different with new brain cells being created less and less often. When old cells die, new cells can’t replace them at the same rate they once did. That translates into diseases like dementia or loss of basic functions and memory. There are ways to reverse this trend. Regular exercise is now shown not just to benefit the heart, but the brain as well. Here are some of the exciting results that demonstrate how important wellness and exercise are to long lasting brain health.
Blood to the Brain Means Cells to the Rescue
Cardio exercise is meant to boost blood flow through the heart and brain. For years, the health benefits have been understood that more blood, and therefore more oxygen to the heart, keeps it healthy and strong well into the latter years of a person’s life. That’s not all it does. Brains with extra oxygen have been shown to reverse the trend to shrink, and have even been shown to expand. This is good news for those who are concerned about reduced brain abilities and loss of functions.
The studies state that age-related changes are significantly lower in those who regularly exercise their bodies beyond stretching and toning. In fact, the cells that grow are also able to repair damaged cells at a faster rate.
Exercise doesn’t just increase blood flow; it also stimulates the release of healthy hormones. These hormones actually trigger growth and repair of damaged cells. They are linked to improved health and happiness. This wellness is the key to preventing some serious effects of an aging brain.
Exercise Helps With Memory Loss
Short term memory loss is a common sign of aging. It starts with simple forgetfulness but it can have dramatic effects on those who need to manage medication or operate vehicles. Regular exercise, the type that brings out a light sweat helps the brain retain and create memories. There is a coating on the brain’s cells called myelin. Scientists are still trying to understand this chemical. Tennis players have an excess of myelin, as well as musicians and surgeons. It’s associated with focus and memory. The more myelin, the more a brain can process new information, create new links, and strengthen those links over time. In simpler terms, that translates to better memory and improved focus.
Exercise increases the production of myelin in the brain. It’s the difference between being able to remember a name or focus on a task, or having another one of those forgetful moments.
Wellness and Regular Exercise Creates Good Mental Health
A large part of the aging brain is related to a person’s will and mental strength. Their ability to remain flexible, adaptable, and open to change is a big factor in living longer. Those who exercise have been shown to have good emotional resilience, or in other words, a strong ability to adapt with life’s changes. Doctors have always known that those who recover from cancer or a debilitating injury are those who are mentally tough.
Exercise also reduces anxiety and stress, big contributors to the aging brains problems. People have been reducing stress through exercise as soon as the word was invented, so that’s nothing new. Exercise releases neurochemicals into the brain that help it to relax. Moods are improved, alertness is increased, and the brain can better process new information. These are all opposite effects to what a stagnant aging brain goes through. It deteriorates and loses the ability to process information, remain alert and sends the person into depressive, anxious states of mind.
Brain Health Reduces the Risk of Brain Illnesses
The big three symptoms of an aging brain are dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and strokes. With a healthy brain that has improved in size and resilience through regular exercise, the risk of those afflictions drops dramatically. The numbers are astonishing. With only one hour of moderate exercise a week, the risk of a stroke drops by 40%, dementia drops by 82%, and the big one, Alzheimer’s drops in risk as well.
Exercise Improves the Brain’s Ability to Release Insulin
As the body ages, so does the brain’s ability to keep up with the demands on aging organs. The brain doesn’t send signals for hormones as quickly anymore, which can be damaging when it comes to insulin. This is essential in processing sugar in our bodies and keeping it from building up as fat. Insulin production is affected with Type 2 Diabetes, a condition that is entirely manageable with regular exercise. When the brain is provided with regular exercise and increased blood flow, it produces more hormones such as insulin. The body can better do its job because the brain is active and responsive.
The signs of aging are varied and wide. There is an ancient proverb that states that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. This is the same as with the brain. The best time to start regular exercise to reverse the effects of aging is today. At least 1 hour per week or moderate exercise or 30 minutes of light exercise a few times a week can take years off an aging brain.
To learn more about the benefits of exercise and its impact on brain health, contact the team at HTS Therapy who specialize in providing therapy and exercise to promote wellness and complete health. Also learn more about our MoveWell: Active Aging Redefined; a whole-person wellness model designed by exercise physiologists and therapists to engage every resident and all abilities in your senior living community.
Therapy Plays a Vital Role in Post-Acute Care
The word “acute” in the medical sense means that a disease or illness is sudden or has a short duration. Post-acute care may be indicated for diseases, surgeries, and injuries that dramatically affect a person’s way of life. Therapy is one important modality to consider for post-acute care patients. It can often be vital for patients to cope with symptoms, learn a new way of living and return to full health.
Therapy Treats the Whole Person
Therapy addresses the patient as a whole person. Therapists care deeply about the concept of wellness, not just health. A common phrase among occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) is: “Deal with reality on reality’s terms.” This means that there is an ideal place of full health, but not everyone can get there. This is where wellness plays an important role. Medical providers prescribe pills and ointments to treat a patient’s illness or condition. Therapists deal with all manifestations of the patient’s condition, as varied as they can be.
- Physical Wellness – Of course, many of the problems patients face is a lack of complete mobility, or dealing with the loss of an action or an entire body part. Therapists deal with this by developing new techniques for the patients to use to compensate for their loss of mobility. Therapists also work with post-acute care patients by relearning physical skills to deal with daily life.
- Emotional Wellness – Dealing with any disease is tough, even more so when it’s debilitating, embarrassing or life-altering. It’s not just awkward or inconvenient dealing with incontinence after a particular tough battle with prostate cancer; it’s humiliating as well. Therapy treats the emotional scarring and behavioral issues that happen during post-acute care. Without it, a patient can’t fully cope with their new mode of living.
- Spiritual Wellness – This isn’t some new-aged concept; therapy attempts to address the deep-seated issues spiritual struggles with acceptance. A vital part of dealing with and healing from a new condition is to learn to accept it. Spiritual wellness develops a peace and harmony about a patient’s life.
The wellness chart also consists of social, intellectual, occupational and environmental hubs. Therapy addresses the entirety of a condition by treating each of these aspects. Whereas a doctor or caregiver might prescribe medication, wellness involves a much more complete picture of the patient and treats them as such.
Therapy in Post-Acute Care
Within the framework of therapy, there are different needs for different patients. These are the most common types of care that are offered at post-acute care centers or skilled nursing facilities.
Occupational Therapy – The goal of an OT is to give the patient the tools and techniques to return to normal function of everyday life. Within post-acute care, occupational therapy attempts to focus on highly-specific tasks directly affected by the condition. This could be: learning medication management after a surgery, or relearning how to dress, bathe, prepare meals, and perform light housekeeping duties. This short-term therapy is about getting patients to become independent so they can rely on themselves rather than a therapist.
Physical Therapy – Sometimes, a surgery or illness causes physical changes to a patient’s body. After a hip replacement, a physical therapist provides post-acute care during the recovery to develop specific muscles so patients regain the ability to walk. Physical therapists strengthen and target the movements that can no longer be performed normally. They also prescribe exercise so that the patient can become independent and self-reliant.
Speech Therapy – This may be indicated for patients with some sort of head or neck cancer or the rapid onset of a neurological disease. The speech, cognition, swallowing or motor movements of the mouth can be greatly affected. Speech therapy seeks to restore function to all these areas. It exists to bring back that original movement within the mouth. Words are the literal sharing of ideas and thoughts so the lack of words can greatly hamper a patient’s moods and ability to heal. With therapy, patients can restore their ability to communicate effectively, even if it is different than before.
Therapy’s Role in Recovery
Therapy provides patients with care in every aspect of their life. Rehabilitation is an important and critical part of the recovery process. For most patients, a post-acute care stay lasts from 20-30 days depending on the patient’s diagnosis and tolerance for therapy. It’s short-term care that’s designed to transition patients out of medical facilities and back into the home. There is no other solution that is as complete and whole as therapy for making this outcome possible.
For the most part, post-acute care is done in a skilled nursing facility or a long-term acute center (LTAC). Many patients, with the correct therapy, move back into their homes and lead normal lives within a few weeks to months. Therapy can continue in the home as patients work towards a complete restoration of their health and wellbeing.
HTS provides therapy services to skilled nursing facilities, extended care, hospitals, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities across the Midwest and Southern States. We are a trusted authority on post-acute care rehabilitation and keep our clients informed, compliant and positioned as leaders in their industry. Partner with HTS today!
Did you know your bones are alive? Bones are made of living, breathing cells growing tissue. Throughout life you will continue to lose bone and make new bone. After age 30, your bone loss actually speeds up. As you continue to age, you can end up losing more bone than you’re forming. Osteoporosis happens when you lose too much bone or make too little bone or both. Read more
An assisted living community is designed for those individuals who can still function, but they need a bit of extra care undertaking their daily activities. There are two main variations of assisted living that these facilities care for. There are the activities of daily living (ADL), which can include bathing and dressing. They are necessary activities that everyone needs to perform on a daily basis. Therapy for individuals can help work through the challenges some people face with this level of task. There are also instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). These are the tasks that are essential to life and without the ability to perform these tasks; a person’s health would suffer. This includes preparing meals, eating and drinking, transportation, mobility, and managing medication. An assisted living community is excellent at identifying and categorizing people into specific levels of care.
Therapy for these individuals is varied and different. Occupational therapy comes into play quite a bit with assisted living communities. They have an outlying role in some patient’s lives, assisting them with the ADL challenges they may face. The residents needing help with IADL, such as Alzheimer patients, recent surgery recipients or residents with dementia depend heavily on an OT for their daily routines.
Here are the 5 reasons why you need physical, occupational and speech therapy in Assisted Living.
Therapy Addresses the Issues of Community Residents
A therapist is excellent at dealing with the issues of the residents. They can help them adapt to their new lifestyle, perhaps by helping with some compensation techniques. They can offer advice and suggestions to transitioning from an independent life to one with assistance for daily tasks. This isn’t an easy adjustment, but therapy goes a long way to dealing with these stresses. The best use of therapy in an assisted living community is to identify the underlying causes of behaviors in the patients.
When the residents of these communities start to change, the best course to help that adjustment is to use therapy. This could be in the form of occupational therapy for those ADLs and IADLs. It could be speech therapy for people who are having trouble swallowing or coughing during a meal. It could even be physical therapy for people who may have trouble with balance or feel unsteady on their feet. In the course of therapy, a practitioner can measure, quantify and identify those causes of changes in their life.
Clients Undergoing a Decline in Lifestyle Can Benefit from Therapy
As often is the case, a resident in assisted living can suffer a decline in health. Staff might not always become immediately aware, but by having therapy on-site, a therapist can notice the signs and teach the entire staff to recognize declines in physical functioning and cognition. The caregiver, housekeeping staff and dietary workers are often the first to recognize and identify a change in health conditions. With proper training by the therapy department, the Assisted Living Community and family members can be proactive in addressing any decline to maintain and regain optimal health.
As the population grows, these types of situations will become more rampant. Therapy is the best defense for dealing with declining health and new struggles adapting to IADLs.
Therapy Promotes Wellness for All Residents
Therapy isn’t just for the sick and seriously debilitated. Therapy is good for the wellness of all the residents. It’s estimated that of the nearly 1 million current residents of assisted living communities across the country, 81% require some sort of therapy to complete at least one task, be it ADL or IADL. When the majority of the residents require therapy for just one task, it’s the job of the therapist to offer a solution for better wellness across all the residents.
With 1 million residents now and the number set to only increase, these communities have to become more competitive to reach the new numbers of an aging community that requires some help. Therapy offered increases the wellness of the residents, which in turn increases the satisfaction. This promotes the community as being a healthy, viable option for those who are considering it in the future. Having therapy is a good benefit to offer those who will soon depend on it for daily living.
Alzheimer’s & Dementia Are on the Rise
Occupational therapy and physical therapy can often be more than just an aid for those who can’t button their pants or remember their medication. Therapy can address the deeper issues and behavioral changes that are associated with diseases and illnesses. Those who have dealt with Alzheimer’s patients understand the dramatic mood swings they can undergo. A seemingly sweet woman can become moody, frustrated, belligerent, and rowdy during a bad day. This is the disease and not the patient. Therapy helps to address those needs. It helps to soothe the frustration by compensating for the loss of understanding and memory. A therapist understands that while a dementia diagnosis is a progressive decline, therapists focus on maximizing the remaining abilities for each individual.
Therapy’s focus is the wellness of the patient, not necessarily the disease alone. Therapy helps to offer relief from the behavioral issues that sometimes come from a disease like Alzheimer’s. There is always a certain amount of frustration that comes from transitioning from a life of independence to one where assistance is required. Therapy is at the forefront by helping the client overcome those fears and barriers and learning new understandings of wellness.
Assisted living communities are a popular choice among seniors and the aging population. Now that many aging adults seek places that don’t just assist with their ADLs, they want somewhere that can address the wellness, social, mental, emotional and physical needs as well. Therapy, be it occupational, physical, or speech, offers these residents just what they need to adapt to a new lifestyle. As the population in these communities increases, so will the need for more therapists who can meet those demands.
For more information about outpatient therapy in assisted living, contact the team at Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc. HTS Outpatient Rehabilitation provides senior living communities with convenient, on-site therapy and wellness services to support independence, safety and quality of life for their residents.
The Q4FY15 release of the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Program for Evaluating Payment Patterns Electronic Report (PEPPER) with statistics through September 2015 is now available for download through the PEPPER Resources Portal. To obtain your SNF’s PEPPER, the Chief Executive Officer, President, Administrator or Compliance Officer of your organization should:
- Review the Secure PEPPER Access Guide.
- Review the instructions and obtain the information required to authenticate access. Note: A new validation code will be required. A patient control number or medical record number from a claim for a traditional Medicare FFS beneficiary with a “from” or “through” date in September 1-30, 2015 will be required.
- Visit the PEPPER Resources Portal.
- Complete all the fields.
- Download your PEPPER.
The SNF PEPPER will be available to download for approximately two years.
Revised in this release: The “Therapy RUGs” target area has been discontinued.
About SNF PEPPER
PEPPER is an educational tool that summarizes provider-specific data statistics for Medicare services that may be at risk for improper payments. Providers can use the data to support internal auditing and monitoring activities. PEPPER is distributed by TMF® Health Quality Institute under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The occupational therapy job market always seems like a minefield filled with advice, either good or bad. It can seem difficult to manage and leverage offers against one another. Whether you’re seeking a different place of employment, or trying to secure a new job and a fresh start, be assured that therapy jobs are still among the highest professions in stability, salary, and sustainability. Occupational therapy jobs are more recession-proof than other jobs, which is an asset to qualified job seekers. Even with the career-seeking head start, this guide will help you secure better jobs, negotiate longer contracts, secure employment, and find multiple opportunities in this lucrative field.
Join an Association
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is an absolute must to gain access to some of the features of being part of a community of occupational therapists.
This association is the comprehensive source for all things related to this industry. Being a part of an association has its benefits, but it’s not just about scouring the job markets. The AOTA publishes industry-specific statistics and articles, offers specific advice about licensing and education resources as well as numerous other resources. They post available jobs on their nation-wide job forum OTJobLink, which has hundreds of listings across the country.
Consider using an association in different ways to gain the upper hand on new occupational therapy jobs. Associations have listings for conferences and events related to the occupational therapy field. Getting to these events is a must for networking amongst your peers. It’s also a boon for learning about new job opportunities that aren’t listed on other online job boards.
Continue Your Education
You might think your education is done, but there are many specialized areas that you can focus on. Continuing your education allows you to develop new skills and gain new certifications that you can add to your résumé. This looks good to employers that are looking for someone who can cover multiple duties and handle a variety of tasks. If you have one more qualification than your competitor, that’s often enough to get the upper hand for a new position.
It’s not just about gaining new skills, as valuable as that might be. Your clinical instructor is one of your best resources for new positions and opportunities. Because they work with healthcare administrators, they have first-hand knowledge about new occupational therapy jobs. Unlike high school, it actually pays to become friends with your teacher on this occasion.
Update Your Résumé for the Ideal Occupational Therapy Job
You may have heard that it’s important to keep your records up to date, but you may not have done it in a while, so it’s worth repeating. You could have gained new skills or certifications that aren’t listed on your résumé. You need to fully represent your best skills to the employers. These days, sending out résumés isn’t enough. Consider what type of job you’re after. Do you want to work in a hospital? Update your résumé to reflect your ability to be resourceful and adaptable as they are skills that come in handy for hospitals. Do you want to eventually run your own private practice? Use words like “long-term” and “career” to push that angle.
Seek a Chance for Growth
Don’t assume that the best jobs are always a step up. You might have your eye on a workplace or practice that you would love to be part of, but the job they offer is a step down. Consider these jobs as a chance to grow. If your current place of employment is stagnant and not allowing any advancement, a step back in a new job could lead to several advancement opportunities in the future.
Always seek out a mentor from whom you can learn. The smartest people with the best opportunities always make it a point to continue learning. That’s why top tennis players and Olympic athletes still have coaches, because they value someone who can help them to continually grow. Don’t pass up a new occupational therapy job just because the pay grade isn’t ideal. You might not get the immediate pay raise you desire, but having better opportunities is worth more than a slightly higher salary.
Don’t Sit Around and Wait
Don’t assume the best job opportunities are going to come to you, even if an opening is in your current healthcare system. The most sought-after jobs are found by those who are active in their job search, make cold calls, send out résumés, attend job fairs, contact potential employers, research new settings and network. Whether someone has taken the time to place an ad for new occupational therapy jobs or not, everyone is looking for talented professionals. Every clinic seeks out qualified staff who can show determination and resolve. All employers are open to new therapists who are not only qualified and certified, but personable, friendly, and competent. Everyone is amenable to the idea of new and better talent. With that mindset, don’t wait for the next job posting. Get ahead of the pack by keeping all your relationships open with education centers, instructors, former clinics and administrations.
Occupational therapy is still in the nation’s most desirable fields of employment, and there will always be positions open for the right individual. It’s best to keep this in mind when looking for new occupational therapy jobs. Remember this: be the best viable candidate out there. Assume that luck or favor isn’t on your side, but that you will get that new job with drive and determination.
Occupational therapists will tell you that their job is rewarding, fulfilling, complex, and always a challenge, which is why they love it. They will also be glad to know that their future looks secure and strong with a very positive occupational therapy job outlook on this satisfying career. Growth is strong and the trends of an increase in the needs for mental illness and disability care givers demonstrate that occupational therapy looks promising for the foreseeable outlook.
Occupational Therapy Surveys and Statistics
While it’s always fraught with risk trying to predict the future outcome of a career, those who are considering post-acute care or other types of wellness professions would be buoyed by the statistics that have been made available.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) recently conducted a survey of new graduates among their members. The question was posed as to how long after graduation did their first job offer arrive. An enormous 86% responded by saying that they had received their first job offer within 3 months of graduating. A staggering 97% said that they had job offers within 6 months of graduation with over half reporting that their first offer was less than a month after school finished. These respondents also said that at least 5 out 6 therapists were able to land their first job in their preferred practice setting. That means that 85% of graduates with an occupational therapy registered certificate were able to get their first preference of a job within 6 months. Those numbers are incredible to take in and speak volumes about the occupational therapy job outlook.
The perception of the field has played a strong role in this trend. Survey respondents were asked to rate their perception of the strength of the job market for occupational therapists. Almost 75% of the responses were Strong to Very Strong in relation to positions available and positions found. Although these responses were subjective and biased towards those who were already members of an OT association, they are backed up by empirical data as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that they projected rise in employment for occupational therapists until 2022 is expected to be a 29% increase, a figure which is shown to be significantly better than many other fields. As the population grows, diseases like Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, autism, or a loss of limbs or motor function will also increase. There are projections that also show that within the autism scale, high-functioning autism (HFA) patients are also demanding more OT’s and OTA’s.
Long Term Care Growth
OT’s will tell you that they work with a minority group that anybody could enter at any time. Disabilities, hospitalizations, stress or accidents could all result in needing long term care. As the needs grow for those in this group, so does the need for a professional to manage and care for their long-term needs. This is aided by the fact that every year, occupational therapy is added to health care plans and is becoming prevalent throughout society.
Occupational therapy can take place in the school systems, but there are also OTs who work in nursing homes, assisted living, home health, outpatient therapy care centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and private practices. There are free football betting tips opening fields of interest in prisons, community settings, return to work programs at employment centers or even occupational therapists employed for the care of employees in an office environment. These fields continue to expand every year as the need grows for long term care in these areas. In particular, occupational therapy in post-acute care is on the rise due to the influx of the 76.4 million baby boomers entering into the senior care industry. Occupational therapy in assisted living settings as well as short-term rehabilitation is continually booming and becoming increasingly popular.
Growth in Public Interest for OTs and OTAs
Employees with a degree in this field are enjoying the current climate of a more health-conscious public. People are becoming more aware of their body and their needs. OTs and OTAs offer the public a holistic approach to the needs of anybody from newborn infants to the elderly in nursing homes. Governments and corporate bodies are also taking an increased interest in this field. The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) has reported that private insurance companies have expanded their coverage to include treatment from an occupational therapist. The Canadian government has recognized the need to stop treating the symptoms and diseases and start promoting wellness that anybody can enjoy. OTs are now seen as necessary to lower medical costs and boost the general health of everyone.
Increased Innovation and Techniques
Moore’s Law states that computing power doubles every 18 months because of increases in technology. This boom of innovation and technology has had a greater impact on occupational therapists as well. For the 25% of OTs who are considering furthering their field through research and telehealth, the future looks bright.
With crowdsourcing options such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe, smaller companies have removed the barrier to entry of large capital or corporate backing formerly needed to innovate new tools and products. Small businesses are designing new wheelchairs, private practices can fund new specialized products for better wellness, and the knowledge of techniques and practices only spreads faster and faster as the internet is more globally available. Countries around the world are now seeking to coordinate and collaborate their knowledge through papers and conferences held around the world.
For those who are employed in this field, or those who are considering a degree in occupational therapy or therapy oversight, the outlook of this career looks good. It’s entirely populated by fiercely compassionate people who have a deep philanthropy and love for humanity. Because of this passion and drive, innovators will make the occupational therapy job outlook only grow in demand and perception.
If you have more questions, or you’re looking for a career in the occupational therapy field, contact the friendly team at HTS today. They have first-hand knowledge of the outlook and upcoming trends of this field.