Why Involve an Occupational Therapist When Adapting Your Home?

With the rising costs of senior housing and the downturn in the housing market, many boomers and seniors are turning to home modification as a long-term solution for aging in place.  Modifying an existing home can be challenging and frustrating without the right tools in place.  One of those tools is an occupational therapist.

There is a tremendous advantage to having an occupational therapist involved in the home adaptation process because an occupational therapist uses their medical background and clinical experience to determine what will meet the client’s needs for now and in the future.

An occupational therapist is a health care practitioner whose sole purpose is to help people participate in the activities that are meaningful to them.  Occupational therapists are skilled at recognizing how the environment affects the ability to perform desired activities.

Occupational therapy is a client-centered practice in which the client is an integral part of the process.  The occupational therapist provides an individualized evaluation during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the individual’s goals.  The occupational therapist evaluates balance, coordination, endurance, safety awareness, attention, problem solving, vision, communication, and many other functions while the client performs daily tasks.   Through this process, a customized plan is developed to improve the ability to participate in activities safely and independently.  The intervention plan may include adapting the environment, modifying a task, teaching a skill, and educating the client/family in order to maximize safety and independence.

Home modification is very much a team process in which each player on the home modification team provides valuable information on the client’s behalf.  The occupational therapist collaborates with the builder/remodeler to ensure the recommendations are carried out according to the client’s goals.  The builder/remodeler determines the structural integrity regarding the installation of the modifications and has expert knowledge of building codes, specifications, and resources.  When an occupational therapist and the remodeler work together, they create a much better outcome for the client and family.

To learn more about the role of an Occupational Therapist and Home Modification contact:
Nancy Dillinger, OTR, SCEM, ATP
AOTA Environmental Modification in SCEM
liveLife@Home, LLC


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About Nancy Dillinger

Nancy Dillinger has been working as an occupational therapist since 1996. She is experienced in all phases of rehabilitation including in-patient, outpatient, and home care. Last year she earned a specialty certification from the American Occupational Therapy Association in Environmental Modification, less than 1% of the occupational therapists in the country hold this certification. She is dedicated to helping people design or modify their homes to accommodate the needs of all ages and abilities

  • http://www.accessibleconstruction.com Jeff

    It really is true that it’s a “team process” when modifying a home. Many times the person that needs the modifications is reluctant, or even embarrassed, about needing special home modifications. Having family members present is important because they know what is really needed and won’t hold back anything. They know what the problem areas are in the home, and combined with the medical knowledge of an OT and the technical knowledge of a builder, the safest and most efficient modifications can be made.

  • Doran

    This is an excellent idea. We recently remodeled my 82 year old mother’s home and I now see that the input of an occupational therapist would have been valuable. So , far mom has been fine. I gave her a simple Tracfone SVC phone to carry around all the time, and I only call her on that phone, to make sure that she always has it with her

    • http://www.denverhomemodification.com Nancy Dillinger

      Great comment Doran. Great idea on the phone. There tons of solutions for your Mom as they arise. Feel free to contact me if I can help! Nancy