OTs Reveal Their 35 Top Tips When Working in Geriatrics

Working in Geriatrics? Steal These 35 Tips for OTs

New to working in geriatrics as an occupational therapy practitioner (OTP)?

We asked OTPs from all over social media who work in healthcare with older adults in settings such as skilled nursing facilities and home health and asked:

What are your top tips for working in geriatrics ?

I am excited to report that this list has a lot of gems in it – from professional tips, treatment ideas and even self care. Dive in, learn and enjoy!

Professional Tips for Geriatric Occupational Therapy Practitioners

1. Listen to their concerns and find out what is important to them. – Andrew Donelson

2. Maximize and implement meaningful leisure and social engagement. – Alexis @8alexisjoelle of alexisjoelle.com

3. Respect them, because it’s hard not being able to do the things they once did so easily. I actually had a 94 yo female cry to me when I was recommending safety techniques. It made me realize how difficult the aging process can be. At that moment, I stepped back, empathized with her and re-evaluated how I approached the safety concerns. I was never disrespectful to her, but needed to realize how much has changed in her life. – Manda Tukerr 

4. Find out what is and has been most meaningful to them and use that in all intervention planning! – Tina Champagne @OTInnovations of OT-Innovations.com 

Check out these tips from other OTs that work with the older adult population. | OTflourish.com

5. In a skilled nursing facility, cultivate a deep awareness of your client’s temporal and privacy sacrifices. Now leaven treatment goals with personal control. – C. Anomia @whiffoself

6. Active listening. – Juno Chio

7. Collaborating to set goals that are meaningful and providing education for rationale behind each intervention. – Laura Currie @ots_laurac 

8. Having all of the concerned parties on the same page is so important! If it is possible for everyone to sit down for a family meeting – do it! – Sarah Lyon @otpotential of OTPotential.com

9. If they can’t hear you face them, make eye contact and lower your voice. Don’t get louder, get lower. – Julia Kosobucki 

10. Value the contributions they have made and can continue to make to individuals and communities. – Claire Cooper @ClaireEaston1

11. I do home health and most of my home health clients are geriatrics. Many do not have the finances to pay for medical equipment or adaptive equipment. I try to be as cost effective in modifying their home environment and need for adaptive equipment, while maximizing their functional potential. I often rely on non-profit organizations for gently used equipment, which is sometimes free or a small fee. – Amy Archer Thompson

Not feeling confident working with older adults in your OT practice? If you are new to working in SNF or Home Health, we are here to level up your practice! Join the OT Flourish Membership today! | OTflourish.com

12. Help prevent caregiver burnout. – Emmy Vadnais @HolisticOT of HolisticOT.org

13. Be creative and enjoy life to the fullest! – Hiral Munjal

14. Shake hands and introduce yourself to all caregivers and patients in home health. – Jacqueline Hamilton Walker 

15. Ask for help when you need it – Marilyn Keeler 

16. Patience and a set of good listening ears! – Jennifer Anderson @JenGAnderson

17. Be personable. Be kind. Be honest. Listen. – @goodsam of Good Samaritan Society

18. Honor them and see past their age, disability or illness. Learn from them! – Krista Covell Pier OTR @KristatheOT, Owner of Covell Care & Rehabilitation

19. I like to ask what they did for a living before they retired. Tells me a lot about how to approach their therapy in a personalized way. This also stimulates memory. Women who never worked but raised children, I like to tell them that’s the hardest unpaid job. Smile. I like to include and support the caregiver in all treatments and help them see what they can do to continue after OT has discharged them. – Jamie Ha

20. Be patient and don’t take what they do to you, behavior wise, personally. – Bill Wong @BillWongOT

21. Be respectful of finances and the patient/family/caregivers sense of priorities – as a clinician, we often bring a more objective sense of home safety/modifications /recommendations that the patient or those closest to them may not, or choose not, to see, either for personal, financial or simply more preferred sense of priorities and/or need. It can be a balancing act of education and suggestions on our parts as therapy providers but, ultimately, it is their home and we can only do so much. – Melia Newton 

22. Listen. When you really hear the person, you can collaborate with them to find the right plan. – Kellly S @KellyOT

23. Be patient with yourselves and the patient! There is no perfect situation; what might be an easy situation to resolve may not be to the patient…sometimes lack of resources drive them to do some seemingly awkward stuff! – India Leah Davis

24. Use simple words and do not confuse them. Show them you are concerned about them; genuine. – Vicneas Veloo

Treatment Tips for OTP’s Working in Geriatrics

25. For home health patients, buy 4 gallon trash bags to line the bucket in a bedside commode. Easy cleanup. You have to look for 4 gallon trash bags – usually on the top shelves. Can also double line the bucket for increased safety. My patients love this. – Valerie Kramer 

HUGE list of 35 top tips from OTs working with the geriatric population. Great things to keep in mind! | OTflourish.com

26. And to piggy back that, Karmen Wilson states, I also have them put a scoop of kitty litter into the bag after soiling them to capture the smell.

27. Wear supportive/well-fitting/non-slip footwear at all times (even indoors). – Angela Juba Martell

28. Don’t underestimate the impact of pain and the power of touch. Pain can impair flexibility, safety, mood, sleep, blood pressure and more. Sometimes a 10 minute neck and shoulder rub can completely change the person’s experience. – Julia Kosobucki 

29. Wireless doorbell systems sold at home improvement stores and/or baby monitors as a “call light” if in a two story home. – Melia Newton 

30. Found that puppy pee pads were more sturdy than human-type pads for beds. Cheaper too. The ones from Pet Smart were sturdier, didn’t tear as easy but the ones from Pet Valu are softer. – Marilyn Keeler

31. I’ve spray painted urinal bottles dark gold to hide when full or used as many of my patients are embarrassed guests will see the urine in the clear bottle. You can see it has liquid but more discreet. – Jeannie Edwards McBride 

32. Review all patient medication bottles. What they take affects function. – Sally @SallyCares of SallyCares.com

33. Remove all throw rugs from the patient’s home as they increase risk of falling. – Manny Marrero

34. Foster independence by making their environment accessible. – Rusk Rehab Podcast @RuskInsights

35. Use contrast colored tape on steps and thresholds. Motion sensored night lights are nifty. – Richard Steenson

ok – 1 extra for good luck… 36. Always (have patients) dry off completely before exiting the tub or shower. – Justin Oakley, Owner of Oakley Home Services

 What tips would you add to this list?


Not feeling confident working with older adults in your OT practice? If you are new to working in SNF or Home Health, we are here to level up your practice! Join the OT Flourish Membership today! | OTflourish.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Join us!

    Not feeling confident working with older adults in your OT practice? If you are new to working in SNF or Home Health, we are here to level up your practice! Join the OT Accelerator today! | OTflourish.com/membership
  • Learn👇 how to write OT goals that WON’T be denied & make treatment planning easier!

    Occupational therapy Goal Writing & Goal Bank Guide ebook teaches you the step-by-step approach to writing rock solid COAST goals & practical tips for goal setting in an easy color coded format with outcome measure examples & a goal bank of LTG and STGs. | OTflourish.com
  • Medbridge promo code: FLOURISH for $150 off unlimited CEUs

    Medbridge Promo code: FLOURISH for $150 off unlimited CEUs | OTflourish.com
  • OccupationalTherapy.com promo code: FLOURISH13 & get 1 extra month FREE of unlimited CEUs

    OccupationalTherapy.com promo code: FLOURISH13 & get 1 extra month FREE of unlimited CEUs
  • Share