There are many aspects of senior health that can be improved through occupational therapy. Seniors who need occupational therapy include seniors who are having trouble carrying out activities of daily living (ADLs). Let’s discuss occupational therapy and senior ADLs as it applies to one of the awareness topics for November.
Bladder Health Month
November is Bladder Health Month. The American Urological Association (AUA) hopes to increase public awareness about bladder health in general. The organization is focusing on a different relevant topic each week of November. The bladder is container made of muscular material. It is located within the pelvis. Due to these factors, the bladder is susceptible to a lot more than urinary tract infections(UTIs).
The National Association for Continence (NAFC) wants reduce the number of people shying away from getting medical help. This is due to the feelings of shame and embarrassment people feel when dealing with a bladder health issue.
The NAFC conducted a survey called The State of Incontinence Survey. Their results show that 37% of people in the survey experienced symptoms of incontinence, but did not go for help or get a diagnosis.
Activities of Daily Living for Seniors
Activities of daily living are those activities that a person needs to carry out on a daily basis. If a senior cannot carry out activities of daily living, their independence could be compromised. Activities of daily living include toileting.
For instance, a senior might have difficulties with some of the ADLs due to:
- Physically weak or worn muscles
- Medical events such as a stroke
- Chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s or COPD
- Incompatibility of the home to their abilities
In such cases, the senior or their family may think of solutions in order to overcome that challenge. For some, the solution might be to begin occupational or physical therapy as an outpatient or in a rehab center. For others a move to an assisted living environment might be the answer. Adapting the home to the senior’s needs would allow the senior to live in their own home.
Occupational Therapy and Senior Bladder Issues
Although people do not like to discuss it, bladder health issues can be the deciding factor for senior care. Some bladder health issues are within a senior’s control, to some extent.
It is becoming accepted that a multi-disciplinary approach is necessary for bladder health. This applies to both in-home care and in rehab.
Occupation therapy (OT) can help for:
- Weak pelvic floor muscles
- Other physical problems such as stiff leg muscles due to arthritis
- Environmental problems such as accessing the toilet
- Dexterity, such as for being able to open button or zips
- Other clothing-related issues
- Train a carer in how to correctly help a senior
There is some overlap with the functional help a physical therapist can provide. However, an occupational therapist takes into account how a difficulty affects the senior’s everyday life.
Tools for Assessing and Helping with Some Bladder Issues
Here is a selection of tools that an occupational therapist or other health professional can use. Occupational therapy and seniors really go together!
Tools for occupational therapy and senior ADLs include the following:
- Behavior modification – advice, keeping notes, assessing behavior
- bladder training programs and using a personal written log
- Use continued Reality Orientation to reduce confusion in seniors
- Give guidance regarding clothing or accessories
- Improve mobility
- Pelvic floor rehab
- Biofeedback using electrical sensors
- Combine OT with Physical Therapy using low impact exercise such as walking, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation or massage
Bladder Health Month – Awareness that Pays Off
Sometimes it takes an awareness month to make us attend to important issues. Bladder health is essential to a senior’s quality of life and sense of wellbeing. Paying attention to bladder health earlier on is always advisable. An individual should not wait until it is almost too late to use the easier cures.
There are plenty of options…. begin by being aware of the tools available.
Other than occupational therapy, there is medication too. All we discussed above, did not even touch on the use of medication. Some drugs can negatively affect the state of the bladder. However, there are plenty of others to help restore bladder health.
Support Bladder Health for Seniors
When we pay attention to occupational therapy and senior ADLs, we see there is often a lot that can be done to help a senior with bladder health issues. Persevere until you find a solution!