Guest Post by Nancy Dillinger
The aging in place movement has fueled a fast-growing industry—in-home support services—that are gaining popularity as a low-cost alternative to expensive assisted living programs. In-home support services offer similar services as assisted living programs including bathing, toileting, medication reminders, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, and laundry services. They represent a less expensive way to support older adults who wish to stay in their current homes (Wick & Zanni, 2009).
Another critical factor to supporting individuals who want to age in place begins with planning to modify the living space with safety features and accessible design elements. Planning an effective home modification requires a thorough knowledge of the needs and abilities of the client. Occupational therapists understand that a comprehensive evaluation of the client’s abilities, impairments, needs, and desires is critical to designing the best solutions for that client (Heywood, 2004). Occupational therapists are carefully trained in functional assessment and the performance of daily activities. They have experience in assessing homes for hazards and making home modifications (Cumming, Thomas, Szonyi, Salkeld, O’Neill, & Frampton, 1999). The most important outcome from a home modification assessment is the affect of the modifications on the client’s participation in desired activities (Golant, 2003).
Collaboration between in-home support services and occupational therapy is essential to supporting persons who want to stay in their homes. A home visit by an occupational therapist may yield valuable information about the client’s ability to perform activities of daily living safely and independently. This information can be used to assist the client and caregivers when making decisions about the in-home support services that are most needed.
Successful aging in place requires a network of care that may include in-home support services and occupational therapists. The occupational therapist can supplement in-home support services by performing a comprehensive functional assessment, reviewing aspects of the home that may require modification, and offering recommendations for safety strategies, lifestyle modifications, and if needed, additional home support services. The collaboration between in-home support services and occupational therapists is crucial to a quality outcome for the client.
Author: Nancy Dillinger, MOT, OTR, ATP, is an occupational therapist and home modification specialist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-775-4984 for more information on assessing your current mobility needs.
Cumming, R., Thomas, M., Szonyi, G., Salkeld, G., O’Neill, E., & Frampton, G. (1999). Home visits by an occupational therapist for assessment and modification of environmental hazards: A randomized trial of falls prevention. Journal of the Amerian Geriatrics Society, 47, 1397-1402.
Golant, S. M. (2003). Conceptualizing time and behavior in environmental gerontology: A pair of old issues deserving new thought. The Gerontologist, 43, 638-648.
Heywood, F. (2004). Understanding needs: A starting point for quality. Housing Studies, 19, 709-726.
Wick, J., & Zanni, G. (2009). Aging in place: Multiple options, multiple choices. The Consultant Pharmacist: The Journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, 24, 804-812.