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.