OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a pilot occupational therapy wellness program designed to teach elders the importance of participation in meaningful social and community occupations to their quality of life.
METHOD. Sixty-five older adults participated in this pilot wellness program held at each of three senior apartment complexes. Measures of health-related quality of life using the SF-36 Health Survey and frequencies of social and community participation from a program-specific intake form were completed by 39 participants before and after the 6-month program. Participants also evaluated components of the program through a satisfaction survey.
RESULTS. Scores on the SF-36 Health Survey were significantly higher in vitality, social functioning, and the mental health summary scores following participation in the program. Participants reported an increased frequency of socialization and community participation with an average of 55% participating in at least three or more activities per week before the program to an average of 66% participating after the program. Participants who benefited the most attended more classes, were older, and were nondrivers. Eighty percent of those polled rated the pilot program as good or excellent.
CONCLUSION. This pilot study provides additional support for prevention efforts for elders in the community. Wellness programs for seniors may be most effective if targeted to those who are older and non-drivers.