Go back only a few decades and life was quite different from what it is today. Community was thought of in a much smaller, close-knit way. This generally included our immediate neighbourhood, family, good friends, work colleagues, shopkeepers and perhaps whoever popped a newspaper through the door each week. However with the fullness of time, the world and technology have evolved quite a bit. With developments in travel, industry, employment, and healthcare, the modern world now sees this sense of community span worldwide with access and opportunities aplenty.
But what does this actually mean, and does it even matter?
Put simply, the world now gives us more, and yes it really does seem to matter. More information than ever before can now be found through technology and the internet. There are videos, photos, games and stories to enjoy. Home shopping deliveries straight to your door, even meetings or coffee mornings can now be joined virtually.
Innovative product design means there are all sorts of equipment available with the specific purpose of improving how we live our lives. There are smart devices to help with reminding when medication is due or to control the lighting in our homes. We no longer have to wait for the newspaper, magazines or letters to carry news and updates, as these can be found with the click of a button. This ease of access and wider community not only equips us with information, it provides contact. A way to link with like minded people through support groups or helplines for advice and advocacy.
For occupational therapists, the modern world can help compliment their practice and provide valuable opportunities in finding ways to promote a person’s independence.
Occupational therapists know that independence means something different for everyone, and will consider the balance between reducing any risks and improving levels of independence. If we think about this from the perspective of a person living with Parkinson’s disease, we can see ways how our modern world is helping shape their independence. This is a condition which progresses over time and can be challenging, not only because of the physical changes, but other symptoms too. There are in fact more than 40 symptoms and one person’s experience may differ from another’s because Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, just as independence is specific to each individual. It is therefore imperative that when considering solutions for someone with Parkinson’s Disease, those solutions are adaptable to change to support needs that may change many times during the person’s life.
Occupational therapists will use their unique approach and the resources made available by the modern world, to help a person manage their condition and live their best life. This might include focusing on identifying the activities which are important to a person, identifying any barriers, and recommending solutions to overcome these, for example;
- Helping a person set up accessibility features on a smart phone or device to promote usability where vision is affected, gait problems or tremor is present.
- Supporting a person to set goals, reconnect and join their monthly reading group, where fatigue and falls have been preventing this by looking at a combination of online and environment options.
- Consider the link between mobility and function, where an item such as a rollator may increase independence and reduce risk both at home and in the community.
The modern world will continue to change and open up new opportunities for shaping independence, though how well a person is able to adapt to these changes will also have an impact. An occupational therapist will always take this into account and support people to achieve their optimum level of independence.