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Empowering Aging Canadians

Choose to Stay: Age Well and Live at Home with Occupational Therapy

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Marnie Lofsky

Executive Director, Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists

Milinda Alexander

President, Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists

In 2019, the Canadian Government reported that one of every three Canadians (33 per cent) had at least one chronic health condition that limited their activity (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2021). This figure is expected to increase as the number of Canadians over the age of 65 is projected to rise from 18 per cent in 2020 to over 24 per cent by 2040 (Government of Canada, 2021).


Coping with chronic illness or regular age-related change can be difficult. Unfortunately, our cities, neighbourhoods, and homes aren’t well-designed for our changing bodies and abilities. But, with the right supports, modifications, and tools, we can take charge of our lives and manage these changes instead of letting them limit us.

Empowering Canadians in need of care

Occupational therapy is the hidden gem of health care, offering a holistic, client-centered approach to care. Take Ms. Singh, 73 years old and recently diagnosed with arthritis, which causes pain in her hands, hips, and knees. Unable to clean her house or go up and down stairs and fearing she’d have to move to a retirement or long-term care facility, Ms. Singh contacted an occupational therapist, who made recommendations for home adaptations that allowed her to stay safely and happily in her home.

Occupational therapy is a regulated health profession that has been in Canada for over a century, originating from the need to provide meaningful activity to recovering World War I veterans. Even then, the value of engaging in meaningful daily activities was recognized as rehabilitative with both physical and mental health benefits. The profession still holds these values at its core.

Supporting clients with their unique challenges

Occupational therapists (OTs) use client-centered, individualized assessment, treatment, and education to support individuals. “Occupation” refers to the activities we need and want to do in our daily lives to be productive, safe, happy, and engaged. These include dressing, bathing, meal preparation, working, getting around our neighbourhoods, gardening, playing sports, managing anxiety and stress, and more. As we age, some of these daily activities may become more challenging, and this is where an OT can help.

Life transitions, like retiring or declining physical or mental health, can create a sense of loss or frustration. Through exploring different ways to manage both new and familiar experiences, we discover alternative ways to perform our roles, define ourselves, and adapt our behaviours. It’s important to remember that we each adjust to these life transitions at our own pace.

OTs recognize that older adults experience many life transitions, which may impact health and well-being. They collaborate with clients to navigate these transitions so they can remain important and contributing members of their communities. Whether it’s safely moving around the community, playing with grandkids, or baking a favourite dessert, OTs help people in the way they need and want. Each of us knows someone, is someone, or will become someone like Ms. Singh who would benefit from the help of an OT.

Find out more about how to stay engaged through every life stage at En-AGE: Enabling Ageing, Growth and Engagement (

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