In my leadership capstone course, we had an interesting discussion on elderly drivers and community mobility. I found it interesting that although senior drivers are safest compared to other drivers on the road, they are more likely to be injured or killed in an accident. I am not sure of the exact reason for this, but I believe it could be because their health may already be compromised due to their old age. I also think a reason they may be more likely to be injured or killed when involved in an accident (even if they are not the reason for the accident) is that their reflexes may be slower so they are not able to protect themselves as quickly. There are a number of barriers that elderly drivers face. One of them mentioned in the forum was how unmet transportation needs are linked to reduced well-being. This reminded me of a client I had who used a ride share program to get to their therapy appointments. Although they valued therapy sometimes their ride would be very early or very late in picking them up and dropping them off. This became quite a problem because it greatly interfered with how they spent their time. Instead of coming to therapy for an hour session, they frequently would get dropped off up to 45 minutes before therapy and not get picked up until an hour after therapy ended. This caused the time they dedicated to therapy each week to become almost 3 hours (with most of the time being waiting for their ride) instead of spending their time doing things they would like to do. I hope in the near future these types of issues will become less common for older adults.
With my birthday rapidly approaching, I have been thinking a lot more about the concept of aging. Aging is something we have discussed a lot in the OT program at USC. My class recently discussed older adults and the transition they make to retirement. I think this is such an interesting topic because with people living longer lives, they now need to retire at an older age in order to have sufficient funds for the remainder of their lives. I know people who retired in their early to mid-fifties, but have since returned to work. They have faced not only transitioning to retirement but also transitioning back into the workforce. My class also discused the concept of aging in place. Aging in place is where a person continues to live in their household as they get older as opposed to an assisted living center or nursing home. I was somewhat surprised only 1/6 of adults can do this. I had a client recently who lived in his own home until he passed away. As he got older he started to need assistance for a couple hours a day to help with cooking and cleaning. After a couple years of minimal assistance he began to need more and more assistance until he eventually had 24 hour caregivers at his house. Although it was quite a large expense, it was very important and comforting for him to be able to stay in his home up until he passed away. Another topic we discussed was older adults with dementia or cognitive limitations. I hope there is further research conducted on this topic as the number of people affected by dementia is growing. Occupational therapy can have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of people with cognitive limitations and can help reduce the barriers they face on a daily basis.
Today marks one year since the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon. This morning when I was reading the news, I came across this article: “Boston Bombing Victim’s Defiance One Year On”. This article and video was especially meaningful to me because a victim of the bombing discussed her experience with occupational therapy. In the video, both the victim of the bombing and the occupational therapist discuss their experience working together. This reminded me of why occupational therapy is so important and why I am so happy to be going into this field.
Here is another great article I found: “With A Dream On Hold, Bombing Victim Remains Optimistic”. The occupational therapist in this article provides a great definition of occupational therapy: “Occupation therapy means the little occupations that make up your day — getting to the toilet safely, getting in the bathtub safely, adaptive strategies to get dressed when you can’t quite reach your feet because of pain or other limitations,” Buttiglieri explained. “We teach people how to do their daily living tasks. Get back to their daily routine”.
I cannot believe how fast this semester is flying by. This Saturday I will be leaving for a two-week externship. The goal of the externship is to build leadership, communication, and professionalism skills and independently explore topics that have been presented in our Leadership Capstone course this semester. This is different than another fieldwork or clinical experience. The externship allows you to create your own unique experience. Many people use this as an opportunity to travel abroad. I have many classmates that are going to Africa and working witch children with disabilities. I also have classmates that are traveling to Asia and Europe. I decided I would stay on this continent for my externship. I will be heading to Alabama to explore research within Auburn’s School of Kinesiology. I am very excited for this experience. I have never flown outside of California on my own before, so it will be a little out of my comfort zone. I am really looking forward to this opportunity and cannot wait to share my experiences with you when I return!
With Spring Break rapidly approaching, it has really sunk in how fast this semester has gone by. The faculty do a great job of making sure the assignments we have in different classes are reasonably spread out, so I never really feel too overwhelmed by the course work. Last week I had a paper due, this week I have a group presentation, and next week I have a midterm. I have also enjoyed the variety of assignments. Most of my grades in undergrad were determined by tests alone. Because of USC’s small class sizes, professors have the time to give feedback on presentations and projects instead of exclusively grading multiple choice tests. Not only does USC evaluate what we have learned in a variety of ways, but the faculty also makes sure to teach us in a variety of ways. For example, this week is my Dysphagia (swallowing) course a group of students presented some current research, the professor spent some time lecturing, and then we did a lab where we practiced the content we had just learned about. I believe this is one of the best ways to learn.