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Research Article  |   February 1997
Geriatric Occupational Therapy: The Uncertain Ideology of Long-Term Care
Author Affiliations
  • Betty Risteen Hasselkus, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1532
  • Virginia Allen Dickie, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Cynthia Gregory, OTR, is Staff Therapist, Colonial Manor, Wausau, Wisconsin
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Long-Term Care/Skilled Nursing Facilities / Practice
Research Article   |   February 1997
Geriatric Occupational Therapy: The Uncertain Ideology of Long-Term Care
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 1997, Vol. 51, 132-139. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.2.132
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 1997, Vol. 51, 132-139. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.2.132
Abstract

The search for the good life is used as a framework for understanding the meaning of geriatric practice to occupational therapists. Data consisted of a subset of phenomenological interviews drawn from a nationwide study of 148 occupational therapists in all areas of practice. Narratives of satisfying and dissatisfying experiences with older clients were analyzed to understand the uniqueness of therapists’ lived experiences in geriatrics. The realities of practice with older clients— the settings, the meanings and symbols of continuity in old age, and the older client’s uncertain future—merge to create an uncertain ideology in geriatric occupational therapy. We suggest that a fundamental task of occupational therapists in geriatrics, as they seek the good life for themselves and their older clients, is to reconcile the realities of practice with traditional rehabilitation ideologies by redefining themselves and their roles in practice.