Occupational Therapy For Adults

Occupational Therapists for Adults

 Occupational therapists not only help kids develop independence but also assist adults in accomplishing their daily living activities. OT for adults also helps them find ways in which they can cope with cognitive and physical difficulties. This will ensure that, despite the limitations, an adult can participate in most activities fully.

Generally, occupational therapists assist adults in developing fundamental self-care activities. They also help the individual to indulge in other activities such as household chores, meal preparation, and computer use, as well as leisure activities. Therapists work hand in hand with caregivers to modify these activities and working environments, allowing older people to indulge in various activities comfortably. 

How does occupational therapy help Adults?

Occupational therapists are trained to assist adults in achieving independence in their daily activities. Caring for a kid with developmental delay, injury, and cognitive problems can be tough. It becomes even more challenging when they grow up. Unlike a child, it becomes more difficult to lift and carry an adult or even teach them to do new things. These individuals would also love to have their own space and do things without needing any assistance. An occupational therapist will help these individuals get independence when doing various activities, including;

  • Moving around the house and using the steps
  • Getting out and about in the neighborhood
  • Showering, grooming, and other personal care activities
  • Helping in household activities
  • Taking part in outdoor activities such as hobbies

Adult occupational therapists also play a major role in helping adults and older people maximize their safety. Here are some of the ways a therapist can help in ensuring safety.

  • Recommending safe ways for doing everyday activities
  • Accessing safety issues at home and providing a solution to prevent possible trip hazards
  • Suggesting aids and equipment
  • Offering training to caregivers
  • Advising on the required modification to the home

How Adult Therapy Differs From Pediatric Therapy

 So, how does adult therapy differ from kid’s therapy? Well, adult and kids therapy are completely different. For instance, a two –to three-year-old will obviously talk differently from a 20-year-old. A teen or adult will express their needs and thoughts in a different way than a toddler will. Besides that, adults need some privacy. Despite the mobility issues, changing diapers for a three-year-old will be different from doing so for an 18-year-old. 

While these may be suffering from the same issues, the occupational therapist needs to adapt the therapy to suit the adult’s needs. For instance, a therapist might work on how to help a 2-year-old kid maintain focus or sit for a few minutes to do an activity. On the other hand, for a fifteen-year-old, the therapist will help them to learn how to do their homework, groom, and socialize with friends. Additionally, the main problem that 30-year-olds may face is handling various work projects. As such, an OT for adults adapts to solve the problem depending on the individual’s span. 

How Occupational Therapists Work with Adults

With adults, the things the therapist works on include organization, planning, computer skills, interview skills, and strategies for handling anxiety. The therapist will customize everything to fit the role of the individual. This makes the adult feel a part of the family. By helping them gain their independence, they will not only fit in the family setting but also society. The individuals can learn how to take care of themselves and be employed.

Occupational therapists for seniors

Elderly occupational therapists specialize in assisting older people in their daily lives. The therapist analyzes the patient’s condition and finds out the right activities or modifications suited to support their physical, emotional, psychological, and environmental needs. They develop specialized exercises that support the needs of the patient. Here are the main benefits of occupational therapy sessions for older people.

Helps keep arthritis at bay

OT for older people offers advice on the relevant modifications required to make their homes and workstations safe and comfortable. This enables the seniors to deal with arthritis, allowing them to continue tackling their tasks normally. If left unchecked, arthritis pain can render a person immobile. The therapist will analyze the condition and take the relevant action.

 Generally, arthritis discomfort and pain arise when the patient moves the affected joint. An occupational therapist will help the patient position their legs and other parts into more comfortable positions.

Boosts memory & cognitive skills

As mentioned, with age, our brain weakens. This may lead to certain conditions, such as forgetfulness and dementia. Occupational therapists for seniors also help patients to sharpen their cognitive skills and memory. While severe conditions such as dementia are irreversible, these therapists will prevent the condition from worsening. 

Some of the effective exercises that help seniors maintain sharp memory include reading books and solving a crossword puzzle. It is always recommended to start the treatment as early as possible. However, the occupational therapist for seniors can still help in later stages, although in these stages, their focus is to improve the senior’s quality of life with simplified activities and sensory stimulation.

Improves vision

Vision loss is common in older people. The good news is that an occupational therapist can help reduce vision impairment. Just like physical therapy, the therapist will train the patient on various vision therapy techniques that restore proper functioning for the brain and eyes without undergoing surgery.

Elderly occupational therapy assists seniors with different eye problems such as lazy eyes, double vision, dizziness, balance, reading, and strabismus. They begin by evaluating the damage to identify whether the vision problem is repairable or not. After that, they offer customized exercises to fit the patient’s needs.

Increases movement range

 As we grow old, our body becomes fragile. Particularly, age takes a toll on our bones, joints, and mental stability. Adult occupational therapists use various techniques that help the patient increase their range of motion. Also known as ROM (range of motion), these exercises help the patients to walk, lift things, and do other activities comfortably.

 The exercises decrease stiffness and pain that is often caused by conditions such as arthritis. ROM exercise is different depending on the underlying condition and the body part that is affected. Nonetheless, these exercises will help the patient stretch their muscles and have an easy time while taking part in various activities.

Life transitions

Generally, we undergo numerous throughout our lives. Be as it may, the majority of the toughest transition comes into play when we get old. Seniors often go through rough transitions such as widowhood, retirement, and relocation. Sadly, older people are also forced to say goodbye to their friends and family who pass on before they do. Occupational therapy will help the seniors through this transition by eliminating loneliness. The OT for older people creates activities that will help them cope with the rough transitions.

Helps to cope with chronic pain

 There are various main causes of chronic pain, normal aging being one of them. It is characterized by traumatic injuries, nerve damage, and injuries that take ages to heal. Unfortunately, chronic pain can lead to loss of independence, where the senior may lose control over daily activities. Adult occupational therapists use several approaches to manage pain and discomfort. They also equip the patient with various adaptive ways to assist them in going about their daily chores. These approaches include;

  • Pacing activities
  • Proactive pain control
  • Muscle tension reduction
  • Neuromuscular reduction
  • Safe body ergonomics and mechanics

A trusted confidant

 The last thing a parent or a senior relative would want is to cause pain to a loved one. Most often, the kids take care of their ailing senior parent. And, since the parent wouldn’t want to see their kids sad, they often lie about their condition. Occupational therapists serve as a trusted confidant for the seniors. Unlike speaking to their kids, a senior will feel comfortable talking to an occupational therapist about some of the challenges they are going through. The best thing about this is that the therapist can find an easy solution to make the elderly patient feel comfortable. They are also trained on how to speak to the patient and make them feel better.


When kids, adults, and seniors are having problems doing daily chores because of developmental delay, injury, aging, or other conditions, an adult occupational therapist can assist. The primary goal for occupational therapists is to assist kids, adults, and older people to achieve more every day. They equip the patient with the skills they need to make their life easy at home, school, or work. These therapists work hand in hand with families and caregivers to help the patient achieve independence and confidence. 

What are the main swallowing problems?

Swallowing is a three-stage process. Swallowing disorders develop when you have an issue in one or a combination of these stages.

  • The oral phase is the first stage that involves chewing, sucking, and moving your food or drinking into your throat.
  • Pharyngeal phase – This second phase involves what happens when you start swallowing and squeezing the food down the throat. Here, it would help if you closed off the airway to block the liquid or food from choking you.
  • Esophageal is the third stage. The phase involves closing and opening the tube that goes from your mouth to the stomach (esophagus). The primary function of the esophagus is to push food down to the stomach. If the muscles do not function properly, the food can be stuck in this tube, blocking the airways. Blockage in the esophagus can also make you throw up.

Swallowing problems can appear at any stage, although they are most common in the elderly. Dysphasia has many causes, and the treatment often depends on the condition causing it. The primary condition that causes swallowing problems includes:

Swallowing problems can appear at any stage, although they are most common in the elderly. Dysphasia has many causes, and the treatment often depends on the condition causing it. The primary condition that causes swallowing problems includes:

  1. Damage to the part of the brain or nerves resulting from any of these conditions/diseases
  • Brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Friedreich ataxia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  1. Problems with your head or neck, such as:
  • Mouth, esophagus, or throat cancer
  • Poor dentition such as missing teeth, decaying teeth, or dentures that do not fit well
  • Neck or mouth surgery
  1. Medication that causes a dry mouth, making it hard to swallow and chew

Why do people with swallowing problems need dysphagia therapy?

Swallowing problems often cause food and drinks to become lodged in the airway. For most individuals, a small amount of saliva falling into the airways triggers a reflexive cough. While this may not do you any harm, this is not the case for individuals who have had a stroke or other neurological diseases that may harm their body reflexes. This means that their protective reflexes, such as coughing, may not work. As such, food and drinks may fall into the open airway causing numerous illnesses.

The lungs are moist and warm, thus creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. When the food and beverages fall into the lungs, these individuals are at risk of having aspiration pneumonia. When left untreated, this condition is fatal. The patient is often put under nil by mouth in hospitals, meaning that they are not capable of eating or drinking until a swallow and speech pathologist assesses their swallowing safety.

This is where we come in. At SoCal speech and swallow therapy center, we are committed to helping individuals swallow problems to manage the condition once discharged from the hospital. Our speech and swallow therapist may suggest the following modifications to manage an ongoing swallowing problem.

  • Modifying food texture and drink thickness
  • Recommending the correct sitting positions during mealtimes
  • Therapy exercises that strengthen the muscles used while swallowing
  • Teaching the various patient techniques to use while swallowing

A patient with an acquired brain injury will benefit from swallow therapy as it will help them strengthen the muscles that coordinate swallowing. Individuals suffering from deteriorating or progressive conditions such as Parkinson’s disease will also need the intervention of a speech and swallow pathologist. A swallowing therapy program can provide strategies to compensate for the weak muscles. At the SoCal therapy center, we also teach the caregiver how to modify the food texture and drink thickness. Our mission is to help the patient enjoy a happy life by ensuring that they enjoy their drinks and food without compromising their health.

Signs of dysphagia and when to seek help

So when do you need to seek help? If you or your loved one has the following signs, they may be suffering from dysphagia.

  • Constant coughing during or immediately after eating or drinking
  • Struggling to chew or swallow. The person may use be forced to use extra effort or more time to chew and swallow food
  • A gurgled or wet sounding voice after eating and drinking
  • Excessive saliva in the mouth
  • Food or drinks leaking from your mouth onto your cloth
  • Having difficulties breathing during or after meals
  • Rapid weight loss

Having a problem doing simple things such as eating can be embarrassing. Most often, you or your loved one may want to eat alone. Individuals with swallowing problems may also experience the following:

  • Poor nutrition that causes rapid weight loss
  • Dehydration since they are not capable of swallowing
  • Pneumonia and other lung infections

Swallowing Assessment

Screening people with one or a combination of the signs mentioned is vital to avoid malnutrition, choking, and other complications such as pneumonia. At SoCal speech and swallow therapy center, our highly skilled pathologist will assess to see how you eat and drink. Like other diseases, when swallowing difficulties are identified early, our specialist can tailor care and treatment that responds to the specific needs of the patient. Our speech therapist will ask you a series of questions to help them develop a detailed assessment of your swallowing abilities. Here are some of the things that you can expect from our assessment.

  • The speech therapist will ask you about your health. Here you will discuss things such as past surgeries, illnesses, and past swallowing problems.
  • The specialist will also perform an oral-motor assessment, which mainly involves investigating the functioning of your cranial nerves and assessing the anatomy and physiology of the muscles responsible for the swallowing process.
  • Our speech and swallow therapist will also assess the capability of your swallowing muscles when handling foods and drinks with different textures
  • People with swallowing problems use extra effort when eating and swallowing. Our swallowing pathologist will assess how you are swallowing change when the muscles become fatigued.
  • We will also review how you implement our recommended swallowing strategies when eating and drinking
  • The specialist will also recommend further testing if the need arises

What does dysphagia therapy involve?

We understand, no two patients’ conditions are the same. As such, we strive to come up with a personalized therapy program that meets your unique needs. SoCal speech and swallow therapists will work with you to ensure that you take your meals and drink safely. Our swallowing therapy combines various techniques and treatment that helps to strengthen your swallowing muscles. The therapy involves

  • Treating your swallowing/chewing muscles
  • Training the patient on ways to sit and hold their head when eating or drinking
  • Testing differently textured foods and finding the ones that have an easy texture for you to swallow safely.

Our speech and swallow therapist will typically book you in a block of sessions that runs about 45 minutes. We also perform the swallow therapy sessions at the comfort of your home. The home-based swallow therapy sessions will help the patient to use familiar cutlery. We will also engage the caregivers to help them understand your condition and teach them how they can help you manage it. We may also refer you to other health professionals who will help manage other conditions associated with your swallowing problems. These medical professionals include;

  • General Practitioner (GP) to manage an underlying condition
  • Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT) to review possible reflux
  • Dietitian who ensure that the patient gets enough hydration and nutrition
  • A pharmacist who will help in managing your swallowing tablet medications

Our swallowing therapy program is designed to help avoid dehydration, choking, aspiration pneumonia while ensuring that they get their daily dietary requirements. Our speech and swallow pathologists use advanced current methods and modalities to ensure that the patient swallows safely. Through our intensive dysphagia therapy, our goal is to assist the patient in regaining their independence.Damage to the part of the brain or nerves resulting from any of these conditions