Age Proof Your Life
The population of the developed world is getting older.
- One in 4 babies born today will live to be 100
- The number of people aged over 65 is expected to rise by 50% in the next 20 years
- The number of over 85s is predicted to double in the next 20 years and treble in the next 30 years
- 3.8 million older people live alone, 70% of these are women
- These figures are based on the UK, but other comparable countries may be ‘ageing’ even faster!
My theme for this year’s A-Z Challenge is Age Proof Your Life.
As an Occupational Therapist (OT) with over 20 years experience, mainly in working with older people, I have had the privilege of witnessing at close hand the ways that many people cope with the challenges of growing older, whether in good health or poor, whether surrounded by family or alone and whether financially comfortable or not.
Last year I used the A-Z Challenge to reflect on a study visit I had just completed to the USA (I am UK based) to study Lifestyle Redesign®, an occupational therapy approach that enables people to make changes in their lives that are long lasting and health promoting. Research has shown that this approach has benefits for the health and wellbeing of older people that are sustainable and reduce the need to use health and social services. Lifestyle Redesign® is based in the theories of the OT profession and also those of Occupational Science. To read my report click the WCMT Study Visit report tab above.
I will draw on this experience as well as the theories and evidence that underpin the profession of Occupational Therapy. An OT can help you to live life your way. OTs believe that you are what you do and we look at ‘occupations’ as the meaningful activities in your everyday life. OTs look at the whole person and how occupation shapes your life. An OT can help find ways to incorporate health promoting activities and routines into daily life resulting in greater life satisfaction, health and wellbeing.
An OT can help you continue to have an active life as you get older by finding ways to make everyday tasks easier or by helping you to try something new to aid independence. An OT can offer solutions and alternative ways of doing things when everyday activities become difficult to help you to get the most from life.
When illness, injury, disability prevent you from doing the activities that are meaningful in your life, an OT can help restore health, independence and wellbeing.
OTs are experts in understanding and working with the complex interaction between an individual with all their preferences, abilities, limitations and aspirations, their home situation and lifestyle and their occupations.
So whether you are an older person, looking to the future, an OT yourself or just interested- I hope you will find my posts this month interesting and stimulating.
I will not be presenting lots of ‘heavy duty’ theory, but where relevant I will try to provide links or references for further reading for those who do want to read further.
Craig, C & Mountain G (2007) Lifestyle Matters. An Occupational Approach to Healthy Ageing. Speechmark. UK
Jackson, J. (1996). Living a meaningful existence in old age. In R. Zemke & F. Clark (Eds.), Occupational science: The evolving discipline (pp. 339-361). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Mandel, D. R., Jackson, J. M., Zemke, R., Nelson, L. & Clark, F. A. (1999). Lifestyle redesign®: Implementing the well elderly program. Bethesda, MD: The American Occupational Therapy Association.