8 Questions to Ask an Occupational Therapist After a Broken Hip

Once your parent is back at home after suffering a hip fracture, her comfort, safety, and mobility become top priorities. She'll need changes in her environment so she can feed and dress herself and get around the house. That's where an occupational therapist (OT) can help. This professional is trained to look at home environments and suggest changes that will make it easier to function.

The OT will develop a plan based on the layout of your parent's home and her doctor's recommendations (the doctor will determine how much weight, if any, your parent can bear on the injured side, for example). Below are questions to ask your parent's occupational therapist.

  1. What sort of devices will my parent need to help her get dressed?

    If your parent can't bend, she'll need to learn how to use adaptive devices like a dressing stick. She can use this long dowel with a hook on the end to help her put on underwear, pants, and socks. Long shoehorns are especially useful for getting into shoes without having to bend. (Your parent will probably want to invest in a pair of slip-on shoes with nonslip soles.)

  2. Will any of the surfaces my parent sits on need to be raised?

    Your parent's occupational therapist may recommend that she sit in seats that are firm and raised. If your parent has a favorite chair that's too low, he might suggest placing a firm cushion on top of it or boosting it with cone-shaped furniture raisers. If the chair doesn't have arms, the therapist may suggest switching to one that does, so that your parent can get up more easily. He may also recommend purchasing an elevated toilet seat.

  3. Will my parent be able to bathe herself?

    Because your parent won't be able to bend, the occupational therapist may recommend a bath chair for the shower. He can show her how to position herself while using a long-handled sponge to wash her feet and legs. The OT should also show your parent the proper way to get in and out of the shower stall or bath. (Grab bars will make it easier.) If safety mats aren't already in place, he'll likely recommend peel-and-stick safety mats for the tub or shower to prevent slipping.

  4. Can my parent carry things around the house?

    Your parent will have restrictions on how much weight she can carry. Since she may be using a walker, she'll need to use some alternatives for lifting and carrying objects. Check medical supply companies to find walkers that have attached baskets for transporting lightweight items around the house.

  5. Is cooking off limits?

    Many kitchen tasks require lifting or bending -- moving pots and pans, leaning over the counter to chop or stir. The occupational therapist can show your mother how to push pots and pans along the counter instead of lifting them. He may also suggest that she sit on a high stool to chop vegetables.

  6. What's the best way for my parent to get in and out of bed?

  7. Is it safe to use a walker in the house?

    To ensure that your parent will be able to move through the house easily and safely, the OT will check the lighting to make sure it's bright enough and remove hazards such as throw rugs, clutter, and electric cords. He can also show your mother how to position the walker in front of cabinets and closets before opening them and how to carry food.

  8. How can I make things easier for my parent in her home?

    Your parent will be temporarily unable to do many tasks that are usually second nature, particularly those that require reaching and bending. The occupational therapist can recommend ways to arrange items around the house so that your parent can reach them without injuring her hip. Ask the OT to show you how to make sure your mother is moving properly so you can remind her if necessary.

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