Occupational therapist helping seniors live at homeMarch 16, 2015
For seniors or people who have suffered an injury that limits their mobility, living at home can be a challenge.
After working as an occupational therapist for the past decade, Torrey Hovland saw a need that he believed needed to be filled and began his business, Solutions for Independent Living, from his home in Pelican Rapids last fall.
“I feel people leave their home sooner than they need to because they are not able to get around as well as they used to,” Hovland said. “This way, I can at least go out and give people options.”
As a certified aging-in-place specialist, Hovland offers home safety evaluations, after which he recommends how a home can be more accessible. Some of the work he does himself — as he received an executive certificate in home modification from the University of Southern California — but he finds a contractor if he can’t.
A desire to help people is what led Hovland to a career in occupational therapy.
“We take each person we work with and figure out what we need to do to get them as independent as they need to be after the injury or illness,” Hovland said.
He has spent the majority of his career working in transitional care, which helps patients adjust to living back at home. It was through this work that he noticed the need for additional services.
(Michigan) “When someone is ready to go home we would do an assessment. A lot of times we would go out as a therapist and recommend grab bars or ramps or other things,” Hovland said. “After the evaluation is completed they would look and me and say, ‘Now what do I do?’ or, ‘Who do I call?’”
If they have relatives available to help, they would usually be fine, Hovland said, but that isn’t always the case.
“A lot of times people didn’t know who to connect with to get these modifications in place,” he said.
With Solutions for Independent Living, Hovland is able to help people with those issues.
The biggest issue he works to address is falls.
“You go into the home and try to make it as fall proof as possible,” Hovland said.
Grab bars, walk-in showers, tub benches, visible changes from hard to soft surfaces are some of the changes he normally makes.“The one thing I’ve noticed is specifically in the bathroom they will stop doing certain things because it is hard to do,” he said.
Wheelchair accessibility is another area Hovland works with.
“A lot of homes weren’t built with the idea that you would be using a wheelchair or a walker,” he said.
Besides ramps or lifts, widening doors and lowering counters and cabinets can make more homes accessibility, Hovland said.
Currently, Hovland is working four days a week as an occupational therapist in Detroit Lakes, while devoting one day a week to Solutions for Independent Living. He’s willing to travel up to 100 miles to meet with clients.