Home Therapy: Improving and Extending the Lives of Older Adults

Results from a new study show that a home-based occupational and physical therapy program extended the lives of those who received the therapy compared to those who did not.

The study followed participants, with an average age of 79, for four years. They had at least five visits from an occupational therapist and one from a physical therapist. Participants who started at a moderate mortality risk gained the most benefit from the home-based intervention. Mortality rates were low for those who received the intervention up to three and one-half years after beginning the study (but not statistically significant after three years). An extension of this study shows that the same type of home-based therapy improved the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing and bathing, for participants who received the intervention. Fear of falling and confidence performing these everyday activities was also addressed. These studies show that this type of intervention can increase the quality of life and independence of older adults. Since one-quarter of Americans with chronic disease have activity limitations, and these limitations alone lead to more physician visits, this type of intervention may be worth pursuing if an in-home intervention can reduce the number of office visits for these individuals while also increasing the length and quality of their lives.

This post was written by Valerie Hagan, former Health Programs Coordinator at the Alliance.