Edmonton Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation for Older Adults and Caregivers

Practical Skills for Daily Living

Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation for Older Adults and Caregivers

Occupational therapists meet older adults and caregivers wherever they are. This can mean home visits with personal protective equipment, but phone calls and virtual visits are also available in cases where it is more convenient for the client and caregiver, or if there is concern about risk for infection.  

Older adults have access to occupational therapy assessment through Alberta Health Services Home Care, hospitals, and community rehabilitation program, if they can wait for the service, but some of their important needs can unfortunately slip through the cracks. Older adults with mental health, cognitive and functional decline are often missed until their situation deteriorates to the point that medical intervention or hospitalization is required. Having an occupational therapist come to the home to assess and provide advice and support can halt a decline, and lead to decreased safety risks. It can also ease a transition back to home from hospital after an acute illness. A collaborative, problem-solving approach with an occupational therapist means that the client and caregiver learn skills and resources that will increase their resilience in the future. 

Case Study

Emily is an 82-year-old woman living in alone in a seniors’ apartment. She had injured her right shoulder 8 months ago. It seemed to be slowly getting better, but then it took a turn for the worse, and now she cannot lift her right arm to wash her hair and dressing is difficult. It seems that everything she does aggravates her pain. Some days she stays in bed. She cannot go out for her groceries or errands because of her shoulder, and so a friend has been helping with delivering groceries to her once a week. She is not sleeping at night, and her short-term memory is getting unreliable. Her building manager suggested an occupational therapist. She was aware of the value of occupational therapy because she had seen other residents in the building receiving practical and timely assistance for various physical and mental issues from occupational therapists, allowing them to maintain their independence and quality of life.   

The occupational therapist cues Emily to check with her family physician to see if anything can be done for her shoulder pain. If there is no potential harm from movement, the occupational therapist will provide some information on how pain tries to protect us, but hurt does not equal harm, and that movement is important to recovery. The occupational therapist can provide suggestions for ways to manage difficult tasks, or ways around it. She will encourage keeping a more regular daily routine, get out of bed in the morning, and rest less during the day so that Emily will sleep better at night. She should include some pleasant daily events, such as getting outside to watch the birds or take a walk, to take her mind off her pain and to boost her mood. The occupational therapist might complete a memory screen and suggest memory aids and strategies that can be incorporated to help her function effectively and maintain her independence. 

Why Choose Action OT?


We specialize in rehabilitation for people with mental health and cognitive and functional decline issues . We have extensive education, training and experience in helping people overcome their physical and mental health limitations.


Our clients enjoy the process of working with our occupational therapists to help them rehabilitate and return to function. We care about and respect our clients when providing effective, client-centred assessments and treatments.


We can help you communicate with other healthcare professionals. We can suggest ergonomic changes to improve your living space. When appropriate, we can also help you with finding activities, hobbies, and volunteering that will be meaningful to you, make .

How Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Can Help Older Adults and Their Caregivers

Our occupational therapy treatments focus on decreasing the limitations associated with an older adult’s chronic pain, fatigue, and depressed/anxious mood. We help her or him and their caregiver gain an accurate awareness and understanding of their abilities and limitations to participate in valued life roles.

With the client, develop a routine of activity and rest that focuses on what the individual can do and gradually building on that as confidence increases. Complex activities are broken down into smaller steps to be less overwhelming. 

Provide information on non-medication strategies and self-management for pain and mood management. Provide information and strategies targeted to improve sleep.

Recommend home modifications, re-organization, and devices when appropriate to help the client maintain independence and safety at home. 

Provide support and information to caregivers so they can feel confident and valued. If there are hired caregivers, training can be provided, that is customized to the older adult’s needs and preferences. 

Find opportunities to reintroduce previously valued activities, recognizing that they may need to be modified or different to be safe. We help you return to an appropriate productive role, such as hobbies or volunteering.

Refer to other healthcare providers when appropriate, such as a physiotherapist or dietitian. Advocate for the client or caregiver when necessary.

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