An occupational therapist is tasked with helping someone who is ill, injured, or disabled learn how to take care of themselves. Your dad has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and you've talked with him about completing regular intervals of occupational therapy. Here are a few reasons why this would benefit him in his daily routines.
What kinds of assistive devices is your dad going to need? Is he going to have to rely on a walker now? If so, an occupational therapist can teach him how to use it and how to work his way through challenges while using it.
Your dad may need to use different tools in order to cook a meal. He may not be able to hold a knife, so he might need to learn how to slice, chop, and mince items using a food processor.
Your dad's increased risk of falling is not something you should ignore. His occupational therapist can help him with balance and mobility skills. This might mean learning to use a cane when walking around until muscle strength is better.
If his vision is worsening, he might need to learn techniques for identifying obstacles in his way as he walks around his house. Occupational therapy will teach him techniques and exercises that help him stay on his feet in different situations.
Depending on the severity of your dad's MS, he might need some areas of his home modified. He cannot balance while he steps over the edge of his bathtub/shower combination. A transfer shower seat may become necessary, or sturdy grab bars in multiple areas can help.
He can't walk up and down the stairs to his bedroom. It may be time to move his bedroom downstairs to the main level or a stair lift may be necessary. He might need voice-controlled devices to turn on his lights or TV if his hands have a hard time gripping or holding light switches or remotes and their tiny buttons.
Tools For Independence
Your dad isn't going to be thrilled that he has to rely on others for the little things like cooking meals, getting dressed, or taking a walk. Occupational therapy helps him do as much for himself as possible.
This might mean teaching your dad different ways of doing things. He can't tie his shoes anymore, but he could learn to put on slip-on shoes that don't require laces to be tied. He may need to learn how to make his bed while holding a cane.
He can't pick up items, but he could work with an occupational therapist to use tools like tweezers to build hand strength and control. He may need to learn how to drive a car using hand controls instead of foot pedals, or ways to make driving easier when he has some limitations but isn't ready to give up and let others do things.
Once you've talked to your dad's medical team, talk to a specialist in occupational therapy. Learn more about the initial meeting and how often it's estimated that he'll need to work with a therapist. Arrange occupational therapy to help your dad stay independent and mobile.