When asked if you would like occupational therapy (OT) services, you may think “I’m not looking for a job,” or “I’m retired.” Yes, an occupational therapist may help you prepare for an occupation. However, let’s review the definition of “occupation.” Merriam-Webster’s first definition of “occupation,” states: an activity in which one engages. An occupational therapist is a medical practitioner who enables people of all ages to do the things they want and need to do by helping them live better with injury, illness, or disability (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2019).
Occupational therapy practitioners provide treatment in numerous settings including acute hospitals, inpatient rehab facilities, skilled nursing facilities (SNF), and home health care. Unfortunately, many OTs provide reactive care following an accident, elective surgery, or illness. What if patients could receive preventative, proactive OT services to prevent falls at home? What if patients could receive OT services designed to improve safety in the home and improve participation in their preferred activities?
The good news: Medicare approves and encourages aging adults to participate in occupational therapy services. Research suggests occupational therapy has a significant effect on lowering hospital readmissions due to the unique OT focus on patient function and social needs. One independent study found OT was the only spending category that reduces hospital readmissions. This study reviewed Medicare claims for patients with heart failure, pneumonia and acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and discovered patients receiving OT services in the hospital were far less likely to be re-hospitalized.
Seniors wishing to remain at home may benefit from skilled occupational therapy services to address safety, physical abilities, cognition and much more. As an occupational therapist, my clients’ goals are my goals. I want to support my patients in achieving their goals to age gracefully in their homes. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you may qualify to receive occupational therapy services in your home. If you are not enrolled in Medicare or would like to receive non-covered services please contact us regarding alternative payment options.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln.