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Graduate Center for Gerontology: Evidence Supports Tailored Interventions in Occupational Therapy for Older Adults

New research examines the effectiveness of interventions within the scope of occupational therapy (OT) to improve the performance of instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) for community-dwelling older adults. The publication “Occupational Therapy Interventions to Improve Performance of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living for Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Systematic Review” appears in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. The authors are Dr. Elizabeth G. Hunter, of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health Graduate Center for Gerontology, and Dr. Pamalyn J. Kearney, of the Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy.

Hunter and Kearney searched and examined the literature (2008 through 2016) regarding OT interventions to improve IADLs using four electronic databases. Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were critically appraised and synthesized.

Analysis revealed four thematic areas: cognitive, self-management, prevention, and home-based multidisciplinary rehabilitation interventions. Strong evidence supports the use of tailored, multidisciplinary, home-based care programs to support older adults to maintain IADL improvements over time and the use of cognitive interventions to improve memory, executive function, functional status, and everyday problem solving. In addition, strong evidence indicates that tailored home-based preventive sessions were beneficial to mediate functional disability and satisfaction with performance.

The authors conclude that evidence supports tailored interventions designed to enhance IADL performance. They note that more studies are needed that focus on IADLs specifically -- and that use IADLs in their interventions.