Archive for category: Original Posts


Fall Prevention O-Tip of the Week: Let’s Get Physical

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living.

For the month of November, Fall Prevention Month, our O-Tip series will provide helpful ways to prevent falls at home and in the community.

Did you know that taking part in regular physical activity including cardiovascular, strength-building and balance activities can help to prevent falls as you age?  Speak with your physician or Occupation Therapist about which activities are safe for you and maintain a regular routine to help reduce your risk.


Senior Safety and the Vital Role of Occupational Therapy

Canada’s population is aging. In 2015, there were almost 6 million people over the age of 65 – that is nearly 1 in 6 Canadians. As we grow older, we face an increasing risk of falls, accidents, disabilities, and illnesses.  As a senior how can you stay safe and healthy?

Why is Older Adult Safety Important?

Older adult health and safety is important for maintaining our ability to age in place of choice.  Statistics Canada has highlighted the following safety risks for older Canadians:

  • 89% of Canadian seniors had at least one chronic health condition. Arthritis and rheumatism were the most common.
  • 25% of Canadian seniors reported having 2 or more chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis, back problems and diabetes.
  • 63.7% of Canadian seniors reported to have been injured in a fall.
  • There are 3.25 million people aged 65 and over in Canada who have a driver’s license.
  • 92.1% of seniors live in private households.

These statistics demonstrate the increased risk to seniors for health and other safety concerns.

Occupational Therapists Can Help!

Occupational Therapists are trained professionals who address all aspects of getting people back to doing things they want to do, need to do, or have to do, but may be experiencing challenges when doing so.  Occupational Therapists can support older adult’s health and well being through providing supports for seniors to maintain active social connects, manage changes in health conditions, and to continue engaging in activities that provide them with meaning and joy.

These are the following areas that an OT can help keep seniors safe and healthy!

Fall Prevention 

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older Canadians with 20-30% of seniors experiencing one or more falls each year.

Occupational Therapy can help seniors prevent falls by assessing their functional status and reviewing the hazards in their environment that may put them at risk for falling. Strategies to prevent falls can be discussed, such as:

  • General Education on how to do activities differently to stay safe.
  • Equipment and devices to assist.
  • Home modifications such as lighting, flooring, organization, and layout.
Aging in Place

In 2011, 92 % of all seniors ages 65 + lived in private homes, and over 10 million seniors are living with a chronic condition.  Older adults also have disproportionately higher rates of unmet care at home. Thus, ensuring these individuals function safely and independently at home is a high priority.

Occupational Therapy can help by assessing the home and the homeowner to ensure a proper fit between the person and environment to promote overall health and safety.  Additionally, an OT can prescribe the proper assistive devices, education and help people plan ahead so they can “ age in place” without being at risk.

Keeping Senior’s Active

Remaining physically active as you age can help reduce, prevent or delay diseases and can help to manage stress, improve mood and boost cognition.  Statistics show that 57% of Canadian seniors consider themselves physically inactive.

Occupational Therapy can help seniors remain physically active by:

  • Creating custom activity plans based on health and abilities.
  • Helping seniors create a daily schedule that includes physical activation.
  • Helping seniors to find appropriate facilities and groups to join or other productive and meaningful activities.

Sleep is important for recovering from illness and injury, staying healthy, and ensuring people have sufficient energy during the day to accomplish life roles. Difficulty sleeping is a common and detrimental issue for people in various life stages.

Occupational Therapy can help seniors reduce sleep problems by:

  • Reviewing sleeping positions and patterns to suggest improvements for both comfort and quality of sleep.
  • Assessing the bed, mattress, and pillows to ensure the body is sleeping in the optimal position for comfort.
  • Prescribing assistive devices to improve sleep positioning, bed transfers, and bed mobility.
  • Helping people to implement a new sleep routine that will improve your sleep quality and duration.
Cognitive Impairments

According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada as of 2016, there are an estimated 564,000 Canadians living with dementia – plus about 25,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

Occupational Therapy can help people with dementia or who have altered/declining cognition by:

  • Educating people and loved ones on how to maximize function while still promoting independence and safety in the completion of activities of daily living.
  • Assessing cognition, abilities, and environment to make suggestions on ways to compensate for declining cognitive skills through direct therapy or environmental modification.
  • Developing routines and schedules that promote independence and eases the role and need for a caregiver.
  • Prescribing safety equipment and devices to optimize function.
Transition Stages
  • Occupational Therapy can play a crucial role in helping seniors through live transitions this by:
  • Identifying, planning and helping people engage in finding new meaningful occupations outside of work.
  • Providing education on role changes, spending time with family and friends, healthy lifestyles and choices.
  • Helping discover new ways to occupy their time, participate in leisure activities and find new interests.
  • Improving quality of life through promotion of independence and pain management strategies.


For more information on how Occupational Therapists help improve the lives of older adults check out our infographic:  Occupational Therapy Works for Seniors.



Turcotte, M (2014). Canadians with unmet home care needs.


What is Movember All About?

Halloween is over, but for men across the world, it’s time to sport another new look: the Movember Moustache.

Movember is an extremely popular movement across the globe which involves growing a moustache for the 30 days of November in an effort to raise money and awareness about men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancers, and mental health.

Movember began in Australia in 2003 and has gained global popularity ever since.   If you see someone sporting an interesting moustache this Movember, congratulate them on supporting men’s health!


Fall Prevention O-Tip of the Week: Invest in Indoor Shoes

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living.

For the month of November, Fall Prevention Month, our O-Tip series will provide helpful ways to prevent falls at home and in the community.

Wearing shoes inside the home helps to ensure you always have a proper non-slip grip on all surfaces. If this isn’t comfortable for you, invest in a pair of indoor slippers or snug-fitting socks with grips on the bottom.


Enabling Clients in Lower-Risk Cannabis Use

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Co-written by Kyra Posterski, MSc (OT) Candidate 2019 at McMaster University


In October of 2018, the Government of Ontario legalized cannabis in an effort to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, keep profits out of the hands of criminals, and protect the public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.

The number of Canadians who report using cannabis has increased since legalization. However, cannabis use is not without both short and long-term risks. These risks include cognitive and psychomotor impairments, hallucinations, impaired driving, and dependency, as well as mental health, pulmonary/bronchial, and reproductive problems.  One advantage of legalization is that it allows for a more open discussion of risk behaviours, and the steps that can be taken to reduce these.

Given that cannabis is being increasingly used by Canadians, it is likely that OT’s will continue to encounter clients that use this regularly as part of our practice. Knowing the actions that client’s can take to reduce their risk when using cannabis is thus important for clinicians to realize and understand.  The Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines has been developed as an evidence-based tool that offers recommendations for users of cannabis products to reduce risks and improve their health. Using these guidelines, occupational therapists are well-positioned to educate clients on the actions they can take to reduce their risk, enabling clients to engage in lower-risk cannabis use behaviours. These conversations are especially important for occupational therapists working with clients that are at an increased risk, such as adolescents, pregnant women and people with a family history of psychosis or substance use disorder.

These guidelines present 10 major recommendations for lower-risk use:

# 1 ABSTINANCE.  As with any risky behaviour, the most effective way to reduce risk is avoiding the behaviour.

# 2 START LATER.  Using cannabis at a young age (i.e. before age 16) increases the risks for adverse health and social outcomes.  It is recommended that usage not start until at LEAST the legal age.

# 3 and 4 PRODUCT CHOICES. It is recommended to use cannabis products with a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and to avoid using those with synthetic cannabinoids.

# 5 and 6 METHODS AND PRACTICES. Smoking combusted cannabis negatively affects respiratory health; therefore alternative, lower-risk methods, are recommended (e.g. vaporizers or edibles). Practices such as “deep-inhalation” or breath-holding should also be avoided since these practices increase the intake of toxic materials.

# 7 LIMIT USE TO OCCASIONAL (e.g. once a week). More frequent or intense cannabis use is associated with a number of health problems.

# 8 DON’T DRIVE. It is suggested that people refrain from operating a motorized vehicle for at least six hours or longer after using cannabis. Cannabis impairs skills that are critical for driving (e.g. attention) and driving while impaired from cannabis increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

# 9 CONSIDER YOUR UNIQUE SITUATION.  Some populations who are at a higher risk for cannabis-related health problems should abstain from using cannabis altogether. This includes pregnant women and people with a family history of psychosis or substance use disorder.

# 10 DON’T COMBINE.  Avoid combining cannabis use with other higher-risk behaviours—like those described already, as this may further amplify risks.

For more information about this topic, OT’s are encouraged to access the references below or to encourage clients to contact their treating physician for more information about safe use.



Centre for Addictions and Mental Health. (2017). Canada’s lower-risk cannabis use guidelines:

Fischer, B., Russell, C., Sabioni, P., Van Den Brink, W., Le Foll, B., Hall, W., … & Room, R. (2017). Lower-risk cannabis use guidelines: A comprehensive update of evidence and recommendations. American Journal of Public Health107(8), e1-e12.

Government of Canada. (2019). Cannabis act [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. (2019, May 2). National cannabis survey, first quarter 2019.



Healthy Workplace O-Tip of the Week: Don’t Wrist Injury

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and Healthy Workplace Month!  In celebration, for the month of October, we will be providing you with OT-Approved tips for a healthier day at work.

Keep wrists in a neutral position.  Whether it be for keyboarding, use of a mouse or desk work, it is important that wrists are maintained in a neutral posture. This avoids the potential for overuse and injury due to fixed postures of flexion. Try altering positions or using equipment such as a wrist rest to support the forearms.


A Day in the Life of your “Occupations” — Bedtime Routines

Contrary to the traditional understanding of the word, occupational therapists define “occupation” differently. For OTs, the word “occupation” does not only include “paid” work, employment, or jobs. Rather, we define it as the way people “occupy” their time and as such it actually includes all roles involved in living (therapy for living, who knew?). So, for Occupational Therapy month, we will explore “A Day in the Life of Your Occupations” complete from morning to night, highlighting common important occupations and how OT’s can help when things breakdown along the continuum that is living.

This week we discuss the important occupations that arise before bed.  If you missed our “Rise and Shine,” “9 to 5 “Workday,” and/or “Eventful Evening” posts, we encourage you to view them here.


Stay Active for Good Health No Matter Your Age or Ability

Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do for your mental, physical and cognitive health.  It is recommended that adults have 150 minutes per week of heart-pumping activity and the good news is that no matter your age or ability there are activities anyone can engage in.  Take a look at the following care of Participaction that provides some great resources on how anyone can be active.

Participaction:  Activity is for Everyone– How to Get Active at any Age or Ability