Occupational therapists work with older adults in virtually every setting: assisted living, wellness programs, hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, clinics and in the home. Occupational therapists bring an understanding of the importance of participation and occupation for overall well-being to those who are experiencing disabling conditions related to aging. The primary overarching goal of occupational therapy services with this population is to maximize independence and participation, thereby enabling an older person to continue to live successfully in his or her chosen environment. Occupational therapists can help older adults by developing strategies to help or maintain safety and well-being, to assist with life transitions, and to compensate for challenges they experience in activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, leisure participation, social participation, and productive activities. Source: The Guide to Occupational Therapy Practice, 2nd edition. Bethesda: American Occupational Therapy Association, 2007. [7/1/2008: new]
Additional Resources: The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) does offer voluntary board certification for a Gerontology Occupational Therapist if the applicant meets the following requirements:
- Professional degree or equivalent in occupational therapy.
- Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA recognized credentialing or regulatory body.
- Minimum of 5 years of practice as an occupational therapist.
- Minimum of 5,000 hours of experience as an occupational therapist in the certification area in the last 7 calendar years.
- Minimum of 500 hours of experience delivering occupational therapy services in the certification area to clients (individuals, groups, or populations) in the last 5 calendar years. Service delivery may be paid or voluntary.
- Verification of employment.
AOTA Fact Sheets: Senior Center and Assisted Living Facilities