OT strategies and education help Betty manage safely at home and stay connected to the community

People who know Betty would probably say she is active and outgoing – someone who enjoys getting in her car to visit friends and family, go shopping, or drop by the seniors’ centre in her community. But over the past year friends and family worried that Betty, who is 78 years old, wasn’t getting out as much.

Betty wanted to be out and in touch with friends but she was feeling more and more nervous about leaving her home. She felt less steady on her feet and had a few falls. She slipped getting out of the bathtub and sprained her wrist, making other things like driving harder to do. Without realizing it Betty became isolated, rarely leaving her home. When Betty fell down the stairs in her house her family became very worried about her safety. They considered a senior residence for her, but knew she would rather stay in her own home.

An OT worked with Betty and her daughter to create a plan that would make it possible for her to live safely at home. She looked at the setup of Betty’s bungalow and checked her abilities and risks by watching her do everyday tasks, such as bathing, toileting, making her bed, cooking and light housekeeping. The OT also spent time talking to Betty about her goals and her understanding of her situation. Based on this thorough research and consultation with Betty and her daughter, the OT made a number of suggestions that would help Betty live comfortably and safely in her own home. This plan included:

  • Identifying tasks that Betty should ask others to do – such as heavy housekeeping, shoveling snow, and moving things up and down the stairs – and letting Betty know about community resources that could help her
  • Installing grab bars by the toilet and bathtub
  • Moving the laundry room to the main level of her home
  • Talking about ways to reduce her risk for falls
  • Encouraging Betty to get out and take part in social activities, providing community transit options and setting up a driver evaluation so Betty could drive again
  • A referral for a physiotherapy strengthening program.

By the time Betty finished her OT plan, she was feeling much more confident in her home – and in her ability to once again be an active part of her community. Today, in addition to enjoying the comforts of her safer and more accessible home, Betty is out and about in the community, working as a volunteer visitor for frail seniors. Her family is relieved and delighted to see Betty so active again.