Do your future plans safeguard against changing needs?

Understanding the likelihood that even older adults in good health may need long-term care as they age can be a pivotal first step in building a dependable plan for the what-if’s of life. So let’s start with this:

That’s the chance healthy 65-year-old couples will have at least one partner who requires significant long-term care as they age.

While home health care stands as a preferred option for many, the expense of such services can quickly escalate. For those 44 hours a week, seniors can expect to pay more than $50,000 annually. However, if more hours of service   are needed, home health care can easily and significantly exceed the annual cost of a nursing home.

Is the average cost for 84 hours per week or 12 hours of daily care. If changing needs require 24/7 support, that average annual cost rises to $215,376. When considering the costs of long-term care — whether provided at home or in a nursing facility —it’s important to also think about the role geography can play. In areas of the country with higher-than-average overall cost of living, the amount seniors can expect to pay for care services will be higher than the national average.

It’s never too early to look ahead.

Health changes can happen out of the blue. That’s why it’s important to proactively consider how a Life Plan Community and the right insurance can prepare you for whatever tomorrow has in store.

Download our free guide here to learn more.

5 Benefits of Downsizing to a One-Bedroom Apartment for Seniors

Downsizing to an apartment for seniors has many benefits. If you’re living in a large house with unused rooms, a smaller home is simply more comfortable and maintaining it is  less stressful. There are fewer rooms to clean, and utilities are cheaper. A maintenance-provided lifestyle in a community like Pomperaug Woods also means you won’t have household chores like painting, mowing or shoveling snow to worry about. Here are 10 benefits of downsizing to an apartment for seniors you may not have anticipated:

1. You’re Not Tied Down with a Mortgage

In a Life Plan Community  like Pomperaug Woods, you pay an entrance fee and a monthly fee. You don’t pay a mortgage or other homeownership expenses such as property tax. If you decide to move elsewhere, you don’t have to sell a property that’s subject to the ups and downs of the real estate market.

2. You’ll Find Housecleaning  a Breeze

Making sure your new home looks its best is quick and easy when it’s a small space. With fewer household items,you’ll spend less time vacuuming carpets and sofas, dusting surfaces and tidying up.
At Pomperaug Woods, we know you’re  considering downsizing  to an apartment for seniors because you have better things to do with your time. If that’s so, it might interest you to know we include weekly housekeeping and flat linen laundry service with your monthly fee.

3. You’ll Trim Down Your Possessions

Own a lawn mower? 12-foot ladder? Snow shovel? Time to sell these or give them away. Downsizing to an apartment for seniors forces you to declutter and get rid of things you no longer need. But downsizing is also very liberating. You’ll be  less likely to fill up your new home with impulse buys, because you’ll have limited storage. Deciding what to keep and display in your living space means cultivating more intentionality about what’s truly important to you.

4. You Have More Opportunities for Socializing

Sometimes, living in a big house in the suburbs can feel isolated after children move out or if you live alone. Downsizing to a senior apartment puts you in the middle of a ready-made community of neighbors. You’ll have opportunities to meet new people your age when you work out in a fitness class, join a group for an outing or event, or take part in a community club or activity.

5. You’ll Economize on Home Expenses

Cleaning supplies, seasonal decorations, stockpiles of food or other items — you’ll simply spend less on these when you downsize. You won’t be paying for help to clean your home or repair appliances.
A smaller home minimizes your utility bill, since you’re not heating or cooling a large house with unused rooms. You also won’t need to foot property tax bills or HOA fees.

6. You Can Gift Precious Items to Your Family

Downsizing to an apartment for seniors is a great time to identify and pass down those prized possessions to your children and grandchildren. This way you get to share the stories behind why items are meaningful to you and get a kick out of knowing they’re appreciated by the next generation.

7. You Can Benefit Those in Need

Give your unused, unneeded, and unwanted appliances, furniture, clothes, and other household items to people who can really use them. Donations of secondhand belongings in good condition are always welcome at your local thrift stores, churches and shelters.

8. You Won’t Need to Drive as Often

Downsizing to an apartment for seniors puts you steps away from essential services and amenities.
At Pomperaug Woods, a fitness center, dining rooms and café, convenience store, banking and postal services, and full-service hair and nail salon are on our campus. You’ll also find a library, creative arts studio, billiards room, and a card and game room in the clubhouse. We offer door-to-door scheduled transportation to local shops and other venues, including to the Riverwalk Athletic Club or Heritage Country Club, where you’ll have membership privileges.

9. You’ll Reduce the Risk of a Fall

A home that was right for your family years ago may not be a safe choice for you now. Flights of stairs, dim lighting or slippery bathtubs become more hazardous as we age. You can remove these risks and greatly improve your quality of life by downsizing to an apartment for seniors that’s smaller, and more accessible. Choosing a floor plan without stairs, and with modifications already built in, such as a step-in bath or lower kitchen cabinets, can really improve quality of life.

10. You’ll Have Added Support When You Need It

As a resident of Pomperaug Woods, you’ll gain lifetime priority access to a continuum of on-site healthcare  options. If you ever need help with activities of daily living, our assisted living program lets you determine which kinds of services and assistance you need. You can maintain your personal routines and enjoy maximum independence, knowing you’ll always get the right help at the right time.

Discover “The Art of Living Well”

Downsizing to an apartment for seniors doesn’t mean you’ll be  getting less out of life. Far from it.

At Pomperaug Woods, you’ll find intriguing opportunities on every corner of our naturally beautiful 22-acre campus. The Art of Living Well, our innovative, research-based wellness program, provides classes and resources for your physical health, social engagement, and spiritual connection. It also deepens a sense of purpose and satisfaction with life through vocational and volunteer activities.   Tour the variety of  floor plans we have currently available. The sooner you move in, the sooner you can be part of the energizing Pomperaug Woods lifestyle. Call 203-262-6555 to learn more or schedule a personal tour.

Pomperaug Woods Featured on American Health Front, CBS News

exterior of Pomperaug Entrance

Pomperaug Woods is home to intelligent, positive, creative people who define the art of living. One of the unique things about Pomperaug Woods is Life Care, giving residents peace of mind of not having to worry financially or about someone else caring for them. Pomperaug Woods believes the keys to healthy aging is to be socially connected and physically active by offering a cutting-edge art studio and fitness classes.

View the full story below to learn more about how Pomperaug Wood’s beautiful 22-acre property provides the setting to have a prosperous retirement.  

Life Care Services Ranked #1 in Independent Living Customer Satisfaction by J.D. Power

Nation’s second-largest senior living operator receives highest score in all 6 factors

Pomperaug Woods is excited to announce our management company,Life Care Services, has become the first and only senior living company to rank first in customer satisfaction for three consecutive years among independent senior living communities in the J.D. Power 2021 – Senior Living Satisfaction Study. Life Care Services also achieved the highest score in all six factors of satisfaction: resident activities, community staff, price paid for services received, resident apartment/living unit, community building and grounds, and dining.

“Life Care Services is honored to be recognized by our customers as the best among independent senior living communities for the third consecutive year,” says Joel Nelson, president and CEO of LCS, the parent company of Life Care Services. “We are privileged to serve nearly 40,000 seniors across the nation. This recognition is meaningful because our residents recognize and value our commitment to serving them first and foremost, even as our industry navigated challenges over the past year.”

Life Care Services ranked highest in independent living resident overall satisfaction with a score of 817 in the J.D. Power U.S. Senior Living Satisfaction Study. The study is based on responses from residents living in an independent senior living community within the previous three years.

“For 50 years, our employees have been dedicated to creating opportunities for purposeful living filled with rich experiences,” added Nelson. “There is nothing better than seeing how our employees have impacted those we serve and how that dedication has made a difference for our residents and customers.”

What Does This Mean for our Residents?

We are deeply grateful to know that our hard work is valued, and we at Pomperaug Woods want to assure residents, family, friends and staff that we will continue to improve, evolve and innovate to provide the newest offerings to meet the needs of current and future residents.

If you’d like to know more about the way we enrich the lives of our residents, send us a message on our contact page.

Life Care Services received the highest score among independent senior living communities in the J.D. Power 2019-2020 U.S. Senior Living Satisfaction Study of resident/family member/friend’s satisfaction with senior living communities. Visit for more details.

5 Financial Literacy Tips for Seniors in Retirement

As we reach retirement age and begin to navigate the years ahead, older adults often face issues such as how to maintain their lifestyle and pay for medical expenses on a fixed income. Will the wealth you’ve managed to accumulate fund your remaining years? There are only a few basic things you can do — make more, spend less, or try to achieve higher rates of return on the assets you already have. Well-prepared senior citizens will have developed an astute understanding of financial planning that includes saving and investing, spending and borrowing, getting organized with money management, and getting help when necessary. But achieving full financial literacy doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patient inquiry, discipline, and access to good information. These helpful tips will get you started.

Tip 1: Develop a spending plan.

No financially literate person at any age operates without a budget. Tracking your spending and seeing what you can adjust is always a good idea. Create a list of monthly expenses — food, personal items, insurance premiums, co-pays and medications, everything — and track your spending throughout the month. The goal is to know where every dollar is going. Look for new ways to cut costs, like letting your auto insurer know you no longer drive your car to work. Put some of your income into savings to avoid needing to make large, sudden withdrawals like buying holiday gifts or helping family members through a short-term crisis. You’re retired now and your spending patterns simply can’t be what they were during your working years. You can have automatic withdrawals from your bank account to routinely put a certain amount of money into a savings account or U.S Savings Bond.

Tip 2: Make it easier to manage money and pay bills.

These days, going paperless — banking and paying bills electronically — can save you time and money by avoiding late charges, service interruptions, and unnecessary trips to pay bills. There may even be discounts associated with online bill paying or having payments automatically transferred from your account. It’s important, though, that you promptly review each bill for accuracy, monitor your account balance, and keep the anti-virus and security software on your computer updated. If an error or fraudulent item appears on your statement, and you promptly report it to the bank, your liability is limited. But you have to be comfortable reviewing key communications from your bank and other service providers online and in a timely manner before you make the switch.

If you’ve accumulated multiple bank and investment accounts and credit cards over the years, consider closing those you no longer use or need. For payments you’re  due to receive, such as money from pensions or tax refunds, there are benefits to having them automatically deposited into a low-cost or no-cost checking or savings account.

Tip 3: Find ways to keep earning.

Just because you’re an older adult who has retired from full-time employment doesn’t mean you can’t keep making money. Consider ways to bump up that monthly budget while keeping your savings intact. You might turn a hobby or other interest into a part-time job. Seasonal jobs or freelance consulting are also possibilities for retired senior citizens. But be sure to consider if making this extra money could affect other aspects of your financial planning, such as potentially increasing your Medicare costs or having possible implications for your income tax. Additional income will be taxable, and if you’re not sure how additional earnings would affect your tax status, consult a tax professional to avoid surprises when tax season comes around. One bit of good news is that when you reach full retirement age, your Social Security benefits won’t be affected by your earnings.

Tip 4: Understand the pros, cons and costs of annuities.

Annuities are financial products tied to a contract between a consumer and an insurance company. Insurers sell annuities, but so do other financial institutions, including banks. You buy an annuity by making either a single payment or a series of payments to the insurance company. In return, the company promises to make payments to you, either as one lump sum payment or a series of payments for a specified time period. Because there are different types of annuities and a mix of potential benefits and risks, it’s important to learn as much as you can before investing. A good place to start is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website or by calling the SEC toll-free at 1-800-732-0330. Of course, your financial advisor can clarify how annuities work and address your questions.

Tip 5: Organize and protect important documents.

Make sure your credit cards, checkbooks and other financial records are securely protected. Items to keep at home in a secure, easily accessible place may include bank and brokerage statements, insurance policies, Social Security and company pension records, and other personal and financial documents you or your family might need on short notice. A safe deposit box is best for storing documents or valuables that could be difficult or impossible to replace. These might include originals of birth certificates, property deeds and car titles. Think twice before using a safe deposit box for an original of a will or power of attorney, because it may not be possible for loved ones to access them quickly if you become incapacitated or pass away. For guidance on where to store these documents, check with an attorney about what is required or recommended based on state law.

Regardless of where you keep important documents, seal them in airtight and waterproof plastic bags or containers to prevent water damage. In case of fire or natural disaster, you may want to prepare one or more emergency evacuation bags with essential financial items and documents, such as some cash and checks, copies of your credit cards and identification cards, and a key to your safe deposit box.

Where to find additional help and guidance.

Regardless of your age, you can improve your financial literacy and learn more about managing money, banking products and services – and your rights as a consumer –  exploring the sites shown below. You’ll also see resources for finding local assistance and information on topics such as legal issues.

·  Look here for resources from more than 20 federal agencies, including the FDIC.

·  Find Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) information for seniors on a wide range of topics here.

·  See resources for finding local assistance at the U.S. Administration on Aging’s website here.

Financially savvy seniors choose Pomperaug Woods.

Pomperaug Woods is home to intelligent, positive, creative people who define the art of living. They know our community’s not-for-profit ownership affords them all the rewards that come with local executive leadership and a local board of directors committed to directing profits back into our community through continual updates and improvements. If you’d like some guidance in your search for senior living, we invite you to consider us a source of information and ideas. Reach out with questions any time or contact us to arrange your personal tour.

Top Four Benefits (and One Possible Drawback) of Choosing a LifeCare® Community

You saw some newspaper ads. You got invited to a couple of events. They piqued your interest. So you did a little casual internet research in your free time. You only briefly searched terms like “benefits of LifeCare® communities” and “what’s the difference between senior living communities.”

And you’ve got thoughts and opinions.

You figure all senior living communities are the same. The benefits of a LifeCare® community are really no different than any other senior living community, you think. And while you didn’t click on and read many search results — OK, you didn’t read any results, until you came across this blog post — you don’t see what the big deal is about LifeCare®. 

Whoa. If you don’t see what the big deal is, then we have some serious explaining to do. 

Because understanding the benefits of LifeCare® is important. It’s so important that fully knowing all the advantages could make the difference in how you experience the rest of your life. 

So give this article 10 minutes of your time. We’ll explain four benefits of choosing a LifeCare® community. We’ll even share one possible drawback behind choosing a LifeCare community. And if we don’t fully explain why LifeCare® is the best option in senior living — and change your thoughts and opinions in the process — then we wholeheartedly invite you to contact us and tell us so.

Benefit #1: You’re Guaranteed Care for Life

LifeCare® isn’t a community; it’s a contract. And it’s considered the gold standard of all types of contracts you might come across. When you move in as an independent living resident, you’ll pay a higher entrance fee and a higher monthly service fee than other contracts usually require at other senior living communities. 

That may sound like a drawback right off the bat, but it’s really a benefit: if you need a higher level of care — assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing or rehabilitation —  you have unlimited lifetime access to that care. Your monthly fee won’t increase dramatically if you need a higher level of care, because you’re guaranteed to pay far less than market-rate costs. So not only will you always know where you’ll get care; you’ll know who’ll provide it to you and how much it will cost.

One more thing to note: Your entrance fee is 80% refundable to you or your estate. How’s that for estate preservation?

Benefit #2: You and Your Spouse Will Have Numerous Options and Remarkable Flexibility

Let’s say you and your spouse are both independent living residents. At some point down the road, your spouse needs a higher level of care, but you don’t. At a LifeCare® community like Pomperaug Woods, for example, you may opt for home assisted living. As Pomperaug Woods residents, you’re able to stay in your independent living apartment; your spouse receives assisted living services as needed, right in the comfort and privacy of your independent living residence. You both have the reassurance that round-the-clock personal assistance and medical care supervision are just outside your apartment door.

If your spouse needs more care than home assisted living can provide, your spouse can then move into memory care or skilled nursing, both right on campus at Pomperaug Woods. You remain in your independent living apartment. Depending on certain factors such as what you’re currently paying for your monthly service fee, the only added cost you may incur is for additional meals for your spouse. Your entrance fee is what helps to keep your costs predictable.

Benefit #3: There May Be Tax Advantages to a LifeCare® Contract

That’s right: The IRS has ruled that entrance fees and monthly service fees may be tax-deductible. Why? They’re considered medical expenses. According to tax experts, the justification for the medical expense deduction is based on the community’s obligation to provide care to its residents along with the cost for the community to provide that care. 

You might be able to receive a tax break for paying medical bills that exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income, while your entrance fee may qualify as a prepaid long-term care cost. As with anything involving taxes, consult with your tax advisor to see if you’re eligible for such benefits.

Benefit #4: Even If You Run Out of Money, You Won’t Ever Have to Leave the Community

If you choose a nonprofit LifeCare® community like Pomperaug Woods, you have a place to live, for life, even if you outlive your financial resources. So basically, if you can’t pay your monthly service fee, you still have a home in the community and you’re still entitled to priority access to the community’s healthcare services for life. Your family won’t have to figure out how to pay your bills so you can keep your residency, which will certainly give you and your family significant peace of mind.

Now For That One Possible Drawback

Finding the right LifeCare® community that meets your and your spouse’s wants and needs today and for the rest of your lives can take time. You’ll spend time researching communities, and then visiting them to make sure they feel like the perfect fit. You’ll have to do a deeper dive in terms of your residence options, the services and amenities, common spaces and social opportunities, but also the quality and levels of healthcare you may need one day. It can seem a little like the prince trying to find the girl whose foot perfectly fits the glass slipper. 

Here’s why this may not really be a drawback: You can start with Pomperaug Woods.

It’s the only not-for-profit LifeCare® senior living community in Southbury, CT. It offers you independent living along with the full continuum of care. The community is managed by Life Care Services®, An LCS Company, which has been named #1 in customer satisfaction with senior living communities two years in a row by none other than J.D. Power and Associates.

Pomperaug Woods is so confident you’ll love living there that they have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied and want to move out within one year of moving in, your entrance fee will be returned in full.So now, if we’ve assuaged your thoughts and swayed your opinions, may we cordially invite you to do one more thing? Contact us to learn more. We can answer any additional questions you may have or set up your personal tour of Pomperaug Woods.

Short-term Rehabilitation vs. Home Health: Which Is Best for Me?

nurses checking on patient in bed

Where should you go for short-term rehabilitation after a hospital discharge? The kind of care setting depends a great deal on the physical condition of the patient both before and after hospitalization, the nature of care that will be needed, and whether short-term or long-term care is more appropriate.  

If it’s your loved one who will be in hospital, find out how their condition will change and what activities they may need help with. If equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, commode or oxygen are required, these will need to be rented or purchased, and if someone needs to help with transportation, meals and chores, these will have to be arranged. Don’t leave it to the last minute to find out what may be needed. Talk to the doctor upon admittance to the hospital to allow plenty of time to make arrangements.

Planning a smooth transition.

Proper discharge planning plays an important role in a senior’s recovery. It helps family caregivers prepare to take over a loved one’s care and improves health outcomes for the person being discharged, whether they’re moving to a new care setting or going home. Proper after-care also decreases the chances of a person being readmitted to hospital.

Despite the importance of discharge planning, there’s a surprising lack of consistency in the process and quality of discharge planning in the healthcare system. Patients are released “quicker and sicker” than in the past. There may not always be a team approach, even for the most complicated health conditions. You might interact with a doctor and nurses in one setting, and a case manager or a social worker in another, all of whom are operating under different timelines and with different objectives.

While the situation isn’t always ideal, it’s important to stay proactive and fully apprised of what’s going on, so you can make the best choices for yourself or a loved one.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Who will do the evaluation for discharge or post-hospital care?
  • Can the senior’s spouse or family member be present at the evaluation?
  • What is the plan for the patient to go home or to be transferred to another care facility?
  • What is the process for referrals if one is  needed?
  • How long will the recovery process take?
  • Are follow-up appointments or tests necessary? With whom and when?
  • Does the family or other caregiver need special training to support the senior?
  • What are symptoms or potential problems to watch for?
  • What are the correct dosages and times to take the medication?
  • Are there side effects to medication to be aware of?
  • What needs to be done in case questions arise or in an emergency?
  • What therapies will be needed to restore physical function?
  • Does someone need to be in attendance 24/7?
  • Will the senior need help with activities of daily living (e.g., bathing and personal care)
  • What services will Medicare or health insurance pay for?

Do These Three Things:

If you’re not able to get everything sorted out right away, at least ensure you:

  1. Know whom to call — any time of the day or night — in case of an emergency.
  2. Set a follow-up appointment before you leave the hospital.
  3. Check pre-hospital and post-hospital medications to see that there are no errors, omissions or duplications.  

Getting Help at Home.

You have a choice of hiring an individual health professional directly or going through a home health agency. In either case, you must ensure the person who enters your home has cleared background checks and is a licensed medical professional. If you use a home health care agency, it’s more likely they’ll handle the paperwork for taxes, salary and so forth, or arrange a substitute if the worker is ill. 

Your home health care aide will carry out a specific task ordered by the doctor during their visit. This could be giving an injection, managing wound care, monitoring vitals, or administering therapy or taking you through an exercise program. If the therapist only comes a few times a week, you’d have to be self-motivated in continuing with rehabilitation activities when they’re not around. You’ll certainly feel more comfortable at home, but unless you regularly get visitors, you may be cut off from social interaction if you’re not able to get to your usual activities.

Inpatient Care at a Senior Rehabilitation Center.

Inpatient rehabilitation services for seniors can be found at stand-alone facilities, and in senior living communities with assisted living or skilled nursing facilities.  

A senior rehabilitation center provides skilled professional care designed to help those recovering after a serious injury, debilitating disease or major surgery. Seniors admitted for short-term rehabilitation are cared for by a team that may consist of a doctor, nursing staff and/or therapists. Their condition is evaluated, and their goals taken into account for a personalized plan of care. Treatment can reduce and manage pain, restore strength and mobility; intensive care may include physical, occupational or speech therapy, or a combination of all three. Care is delivered by licensed, professional therapists in the patient’s suite or in a therapy center on campus. For those needing assistance with activities of daily living, skilled nursing and medical care are available around the clock.

Long-term rehabilitation helps those with severe health conditions needing 24/7 care. For example, after a stroke, a person may need to stay several months in order to regain their strength or mobility, or adapt to changes in their speech or vision. They may need constant, round-the-clock care for several months. 

Inpatient care may include meals prepared to a person’s post-hospital dietary needs, along with easy access to therapeutic amenities such as pool or fitness center. Since the rehabilitation center is housed within a community, there’s opportunity to engage with residents and other patients in a social setting. 

Differences Between Home Care and Inpatient Rehabilitation.

According to the Genworth cost of care survey for Connecticut, the average median cost of a semiprivate room in a skilled nursing facility is $12,927, and the average monthly rate for a home health aide is $4,767. The costs speak for themselves, but there are other factors to consider when making a decision between home care and in-patient care. A study of 1.7 million Medicare hospitalizations confirmed that patients discharged to home health care paid less, but were readmitted to hospital at a higher rate than those who were discharged to a skilled nursing facility. The 24-hour care provided in skilled nursing facilities prevented complications that led to rehospitalization for the home care patients.

At a glance: The differences  

Home Health CareSenior Rehabilitation Center
SettingFamiliar and comfortableComfortable. Homelike  or institutional, depending on the community.
24-hour and emergency careNoYes
Adapted for disabilityModifications (ramps, stairlift etc.) may be needed in the home.Environment is already adapted for patient needs.
GuestsVisits at any timeScheduled visiting hours
Infection riskSanitation carried out by the homeowner or other family members.Sanitation protocols carried out by staff members according to state/facility standards.
Access to therapy servicesAccording to the therapist’s schedule. Substitution may not be available if the therapist cancels a session at the last minute.Scheduled to suit patient’s needs and preferences. Team of therapists ensure that no sessions are missed.
Special equipment: wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen, etc.Need to be rented or purchasedProvided for patient
Care planPersonalized care plan. Patient needs self-motivation to continue therapy/exercises when therapist isn’t present.Personalized care plan. The patient follows a set schedule of therapy with their therapist or nurse.
Socialization/activitiesLimited by access to transportationEasily accessible within the community
Insurance coverage24/7 home care isn’t  covered by MedicareSome rehabilitation services may be covered by Medicare.

You Don’t Need to Live Here 

The specialized senior rehabilitation and therapy services we offer at Pomperaug Woods will help you get back to your best self as quickly as possible. We’re happy to handle all aspects of discharge planning and senior care, and we’re proud to offer a high-presence model for subacute care, with licensed therapists and registered nurses on-site 7 days a week.

What’s more, you don’t need to be a resident to benefit from the skill of our senior rehabilitation team. We welcome all Southbury-area seniors recuperating from illness, injury or surgery as inpatients in our Health Center. Contact us to learn more about rehabilitation services at Pomperaug Woods.  

How Occupational Therapy Can Help You Regain Your Independence

physical therapist helping a female resident

Occupational therapy is a type of rehabilitation program that helps seniors get back to a normal life and be as self-reliant as possible. It focuses on what the individual is able to do, rather than what they can’t do. It helps them overcome limitations or challenges as a result of illness, injury, disability or cognitive decline.

What defines occupational therapy.

While physical therapy focuses on restoring muscle strength and mobility, and speech therapy focuses on speaking and swallowing skills, occupational therapy centers on activities of daily living.

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are important to being able to live independently, and are the kinds of tasks we often take for granted:

  • Hygiene: Bathing or showering, grooming, cutting one’s nails, brushing teeth
  • Dressing: Choosing appropriate clothing, and physically dressing and undressing 
  • Eating: Feeding oneself without assistance
  • Continence: Using the restroom, including getting on and off the stool, and cleaning oneself.
  • Mobility: Sitting, standing, and getting in and out of bed without assistance. Walking unsupported from one location to another.

Another category of daily activities is termed instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). IADLs are also a marker of independence, but we don’t necessarily do them every day. They’re just as noticeable when it comes to the loss of functioning. They include:

  • Communication: Using a phone, computer or other means of communication.
  • Transportation: Driving oneself, arranging a ride or taking public transportation.
  • Dining: Planning, preparing and cooking a meal, and cleaning up afterward. Being able to safely use kitchen equipment and utensils.
  • Shopping: Planning and making appropriate food, clothing and other purchases.
  • Housekeeping: Keeping the home clean and tidy, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc.

Through meaningful activities that improve fine motor skills, strength and dexterity, an occupational therapist helps someone improve their ability to perform these tasks and participate more fully in everyday life.

What to expect during occupational therapy.

First, the therapist will evaluate a senior’s condition to determine which activities of daily living they’re able to do on their own and which ones they need help with. Once they understand a person’s goals, they’re able to develop a personalized plan of therapy, with the objective of keeping the individual as independent as possible at home, at work or in other settings.

During a therapy session, the occupational therapist will teach or retrain daily tasks through a combination of education, exercise and rehabilitation techniques. The patient may learn new ways of doing things, such as how to enter a shower safely without handrails. Or they may work on abilities that need boosting, such as putting on shoes,or using a can opener.

As treatment progresses, the occupational therapist will regularly reevaluate a patient’s care plan, observing which goals are being met and adjusting the plan in areas that need more work.

The therapist will also conduct an assessment of a person’s home to ensure it’s still safe for them. Areas such as slippery or otherwise unsafe stairs, floors and bathtubs can all pose a risk. They may recommend assistive devices or modifications to the environment. This may include:

  • Shower chairs, handheld shower heads, washcloth mitts
  • Grab bars in shower or tub
  • Toilet seat risers
  • Bed rails
  • Pill organizers and medication dispensers
  • Kitchen utensils with large handles, two-handled cups
  • Button or zipper hooks, stocking aids, Velcro closures
  • Walkers, frames or wheelchairs

If a family decides to install a medical alert system, an occupational therapist can also teach the senior how to use it if they fall. 

What are the benefits of occupational therapy for seniors?

The right course of therapy will help seniors overcome challenges caused as the result of illness, injury, surgery — even the early stages of memory loss and dementia. Improving  motor skills and body awareness, and modifying or removing potential hazards, can also reduce the risk of a fall at home.

When occupational therapy helps a senior regain independence, it positively influences their mental health. It has an empowering effect, giving them a more positive outlook on life. They can redesign how they live, with more control over their quality of life, longevity and health.

An occupational therapist can also take some of the pressure off family caregivers. A therapist’s insight into a loved one’s condition gives caregivers a better idea of their loved one’s daily needs and enables them to make more informed decisions about care.  

When you need the best:

At Pomperaug Woods, we’re committed to residents’ lasting independence. Our occupational therapists are highly trained professionals who know precisely what to do to help individuals stay active, safely continue their daily routines and pursue a healthy lifestyle. If you or someone you know could benefit from occupational therapy services, contact our Health Center today for an assessment.