Every day we engage in meaningful activities or occupations like playing games with children, preparing a delicious meal, reading or watching television. Occupations are essential, as they are the means through which we interact with the world around us. Occupations bring meaning to everyone's life. Occupational therapists play an important role in assisting clients living with a terminal illness near the end-of-life. Occupational therapists aim to improve quality of life by promoting engagement in daily life activities or occupations. Individuals with a life-threatening illness may have difficulties participating in daily occupations because of challenges with sensory, motor, cognitive or emotional skills. Therapists help clients by supporting them in finding ways to participate in purposeful and meaningful occupations, whether through exploring options to reduce the impacts of pain or energy management strategies to combat fatigue. Occupational therapists examine factors in the client's environment, such as barriers or limitations of equipment or devices, and modify these barriers to improve their ability and satisfaction when engaged in the occupation. Occupational therapists also collaborate with the client's family to better understand meaningful occupations valuable to the entire family.
End-of-Life is an incredibly challenging transition for many clients and their families. Often, clients lose many of their previous roles and responsibilities, negatively impacting their sense of identity. Family members may have difficulty managing stress and comprehending the decrease in quality of life for their ill family members. Therapists not only support the client, but other members of the family as well.
Occupational therapists provide services to clients at the end-of-life and influence quality of life and care by:
-supporting clients to engaging occupations to continue his/her/their life
-participating in occupations that are meaningful and purposeful
-completing tasks that help connect important relationship, such as writing letters to loved ones
-help to engage a client's spirit by connecting meaning and purpose to life
Cooper, Jill. Occupational Therapy in Oncology and Palliative Care. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.