Successful Ageing: Perceptions of Community Occupational Therapists
Garapo, Wendy Madanha
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Successful ageing has been the subject of research for a broad range of academic disciplines for more than three decades. However, little has been researched and published in New Zealand about the concept of successful ageing and its implications on community occupational therapy practice. The aim of this study was to explore community occupational therapists' perceptions of successful ageing and their role in facilitating successful ageing. The study utilized a qualitative descriptive inquiry, where individual interviews with six therapists were used to collect data. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data. Community occupational therapists defined successful ageing as a concept including five main components: ability to live where one wants to live; the maintenance of functional independence; remaining healthy; continued involvement in social and leisure occupations; and the client's perceptions of the concept. A Client-Centered approach, good teamwork and integrated community care were identified as key factors in promoting successful ageing. Effective teamwork and integrated care can provide a well-coordinated and seamless continuum of services to older people, thereby enhancing successful ageing. Community occupational therapists were dissatisfied with focusing their intervention on housing modifications and adaptive equipment. Therapeutic interventions such as home-based rehabilitation and early intervention were viewed as vital in promoting successful ageing. Compensatory strategies including, education, anxiety management, psycho-social skills, energy conservation and reality orientation were also recommended. Occupational therapists have a wide base of skills, which can be used to develop techniques and programs that enhance health, prevent disease and improve the social climate that fosters and promotes a healthy society that can age successfully.
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