The first question I get after telling people I'm an Occupational Therapist is:
"What is that?"
Great question. In OT school you spend time practicing how to explain what it is because this question comes up so often. We are trained in something called activity analysis- ie. given a situation, how can we help adapt the person or environment to promote success for the participant. We look at the whole picture- what your abilities are, what you personally need to be able to do to participate in the activity, what we may need to change in order for you to successfully carry out the activity.
How does this relate to aging in place?
As the aging in place movement gains steam, there are many different professionals available to help with modification and suggestions for safety. There are national certifications that can be obtained by various professionals to inform the aging process and preventative work to help individuals age at home. When you hire with an Occupational Therapist with a background in adult rehabilitation, you're hiring someone that has the education other professions seek through these certifications as well as the hands on experience of working with people modifying their environment.
Who should you call to help with your home?
I would start with an Occupational Therapist, specifically someone with experience working with adults. This is more than professional bias- since OT's are trained to examine the individual as they interact with their environment. Beyond the ADA guidelines, an OT can evaluate how you are functioning at home and how that will probably change with illness or avoiding potential injury. The OT field, like any other healthcare specialty, has different specialties. While we all start with the same foundation in graduate school, OTs usually specialize once they start practicing.
This is not to say "hire an OT and forget the rest". An Occupational Therapist is an important component of developing a plan to age in place, but you'll also need experienced contractors to work on physically modifying your environment. Architects and designers are increasingly specializing in the aging in place market. So for a homeowner looking to make changes (depending on the scale), an OT, Contractor, and Architect make a well rounded team.
Where do you start?
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