Occupational therapy in geriatrics is determined by diseases caused by the aging process, which are subject to constant change. Typical clinical pictures are neurological diseases such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, degenerative and rheumatic diseases of the muscular and skeletal system, condition after fractures, amputations and tumour removal, depression, psychosis and neurosis.
Multiple diseases (multimorbidity), acute and chronic clinical pictures and external influences such as the living situation and changes in the social environment determine the measures. Due to age-related physiological functional limitations, the old person is in a fragile state of health equilibrium. Any additional illness is therefore a massive physical, psychological and social burden. Occupational therapy in geriatrics has to face up to these peculiarities. In order to maintain the greatest possible independence in everyday life, it is necessary to rebuild lost functions and to maintain existing abilities.
Occupational therapy treatment in this specialist area includes the:
- Promotion of motor-functional abilities for mobility and dexterity
- Activation of cognitive and neuropsychological abilities, e.g. for better orientation
- Instructions for self-help with eating and drinking, body care and clothing, locomotion and communication for maximum independence
- Advice - also for relatives - on living space and the adaptation of aids
- Accompaniment in the experience of change and loss to maintain mental stability
Experiences with the most severe need for care, with dying and death are part of everyday work in geriatric occupational therapy and demand a professional reflection of the limits and possibilities of therapy. The consideration of the specific therapeutic possibilities and the assessment of achievable therapy goals is decisive for the success of the work with the elderly patient.