How Occupational Therapy in Short-Term Rehabilitation Can Aid in a Senior’s Recovery

Physical Therapy

The summer months are the perfect time for active seniors to learn about the many benefits of occupational therapy. Health experts agree that occupational therapy – as part of a licensed short-term rehabilitation (STR) program – can help seniors to achieve a faster and more successful recovery after surgery, illness or injury, while also increasing their confidence and outlook on life.

Says Stacey Houseknecht, NHA, CTRS, administrator at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA, “Today, many senior adults are discharged from the hospital before they’re ready and able to go home. They require additional time, support and care to fully recover from an illness, surgery or accident in order to return home safely. For these seniors, short-term rehabilitation, including occupational therapy, provides an ideal solution.”

At Saunders House, we offer RenewAll Short-Term & Medically Complex Care, a program that has been developed specifically to support successful recoveries and allow for safe returns home. Our RenewAll program balances medical management with occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT) and speech therapy to treat a variety of conditions and needs, including, but not limited to:

  • Joint replacement
  • Post-surgical recovery
  • Stroke
  • Cardiopulmonary disease
  • Reconditioning post-illness or injury


The Special Purpose of Occupational Therapy

As a vital component of the recuperation and recovery process, occupational therapy helps older adults perform key functional activities that are highly important to them, thereby enabling them to live more productive and satisfying lives.

Different than physical therapy that uses exercise to stabilize and strengthen parts of the body, occupational therapists evaluate your situation and, with your input, develop individualized lifestyle goals that enable you to resume your favorite tasks such as gardening, sewing or golfing. After you establish goals with your occupational therapist, you will work together on a specific treatment plan to help improve or maintain your ability to perform daily activities and reach your goals for getting back to your normal life.

In short, occupational therapy helps seniors go from hospital to home and the activities they enjoy.

7 Ways Occupational Therapy Assists Seniors with their Recovery

Experts in occupational therapy and short-term rehabilitation advise that occupational therapists can improve seniors’ recovery efforts in several important ways, including:

  1. Regaining the skills to perform favorite tasks – Occupational therapy aids seniors by helping them overcome the challenges they face in performing favored functions such as golf, tennis, walking or routine daily tasks such as cooking. Occupational therapists focus on the tasks that matter most to seniors in restoring their functions so they can return to their preferred lifestyles.

  2. Preventing debilitating falls –Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among seniors and a major concern for older Americans. Occupational therapists assist seniors in their recovery by identifying preventive steps that can help them improve balance and avoid slips and falls while remaining active.

  3. Boosting confidence and emotional well-being – When their functionality is limited, seniors can become depressed as they struggle to perform daily tasks. Occupational therapists provide positive emotional support, as they are trained to help patients see beyond their dysfunctions and focus on what they CAN do.

  4. Safeguarding the home environment – Occupational therapists also help seniors and their families to make home modifications that create a safer and more functional living environment. This is especially helpful for seniors who have paralysis or are wheelchair-bound.

  5. Improving physical health – Occupational therapists help seniors to regain the skills that enable them to participate in their preferred life activities and remain active. This, in turn, promotes their health and well-being through a more engaged lifestyle. By using occupational therapy to overcome specific functional limitations, seniors also regain a sense of self-confidence and independence that promotes health and well-being.

  6. Increasing knowledge and self-care abilities – Occupational therapists provide information to improve the self-care abilities of seniors who may need help with tasks such as personal hygiene or managing important financial information. Occupational therapy professionals teach organizational skills such as the use of lists and memory recall, as well as how to perform activities that enable older adults to more effectively manage their daily lives.

  7. Supporting family caregivers – Occupational therapy can also eliminate some of the burdens of busy family caregivers by enabling seniors to live more active, independent lifestyles. Occupational therapists work individually with seniors and their families to create personalized rehab plans that can overcome their functional challenges and reduce the demands on their family caregivers.


Stacey adds, “Given these valuable restorative benefits, it is wise to keep occupational therapy and short-term rehabilitation in mind if you or a loved one is recovering from surgery, illness or injury.

We encourage you to call us with any general questions you might have and to stay current on a variety of senior health and caregiver topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.


We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “How Occupational Therapy in Short-Term Rehabilitation Can Aid in a Senior's Recovery,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing care, restorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

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Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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