Aging in Place is Health Promotion

Occupational therapy has been involved in health promotion and disease prevention since as early as 1915 (Reitz, 2010). As occupational therapists forge forward, practitioners continue to promote health and well-being for older adults. Some of the ways occupational therapists are doing this include identifying personal and environmental issues limiting the ability to participate in healthy activities, teaching strategies to incorporate healthy habits and routines into daily activities, educate about rest and relaxation, how to achieve balance between work and leisure, and perform assessments for potential for falls and safe living for older adults (Gupta et al., 2011).

American Occupational Therapy Association
The American Occupational Therapy Association is the national professional organization who represents the interests and the concerns of occupational therapy practitioners and students and to improve the quality of services provided. The AOTA has a centennial vision which sees health promotion as an important part of the future of occupational therapy. The centennial vision sees occupational therapy as continuing to grow and utilize evidence-based practice as a means of entering new realms of emerging practice. Some of these areas include design and accessibility consulting and home modification, health and wellness consulting, and technology and assisted device development and consulting.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization has a focus of international public health which provides leadership in global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends (WHO, 2012). The In 1986 the World Health Organization held the first International Conference on Health Promotion (WHO, 2010). This conference was held to address the growing expectations for a new public health movement around the world. This conference produced a Charter for action to achieve Health for All by the year 2000 and beyond (WHO, 2010). “The Conference is firmly convinced that if people in all walks of life, nongovernmental and voluntary organizations, governments, the World Health Organization and all other bodies concerned join forces in introducing strategies for health promotion, in line with the moral and social values that form the basis of this Charter, Health For All by the year 2000 will become a reality” (WHO, 2010, p. 5). According to the World Health Organization, health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health (Health Promotion, 2012). As occupational therapy practitioners we believe that a person’s health is strongly influenced by having, a choice and control in everyday occupations (CAOT, 2002). In a study by Matuska et al. (2003), it states that the participation in meaningful occupations positively influences health and well-being. The philosophy of occupational therapy states that all individuals have an innate need and right to engage meaningful occupations throughout their lives (AOTA, 2011). Occupational therapy has documented over time the use of occupations to promote health and well-being through prevention of disease, injury and social injustice since the beginnings of the profession (Reitz, 2010). The document Milestones in Health Promotion, from The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (2010), states “Caring, holism and ecology are essential issues in developing strategies for health promotion”. Occupational therapy looks at a person holistically. This involves addressing both subjective (emotional and psychological) and objective (physically observable) aspects of performance (AOTA, 2008). This concept of holistic approach has been essential to occupational therapy since the beginning of the practice.


The ICF is the world's view of what health is. The ICF or the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF, is the WHO's framework for measuring health and disability at both individual and population levels (WHO, 2012). It is a classification of health and health-related domains. These domains are classified from body, individual and societal perspectives made up of two lists: a list of body functions and structure, and a list of domains of activity and participation. The ICF also includes a list of environmental factors. It acknowledges that every human being can experience a decrease in health and thereby experience some degree of disability (WHO, 2012). The ICF ‘mainstreams’ the experience of disability and recognizes it as a universal human experience (WHO, 2012). By shifting the focus from cause to impact it places all health conditions on an equal footing allowing them to be compared using the ruler of health and disability. ICF takes into account the social aspects of disability and does not see disability only as a 'medical' or 'biological' dysfunction.The ICF also records the impact of the environment on the person's functioning (WHO, 2012).

Prevention Council

The National Prevention Council was established to look at health promotion. The Surgeon General serves as chair of the Council. Health and wellness are influenced by the places in which people live, learn, work, and play (NPC, 2012). Communities, including homes, schools, public spaces, and work sites, can be transformed to support well-being and be affordable. Healthy and safe community environments include those with clean air and water, affordable and secure housing, sustainable and economically vital neighborhoods and supportive structures. Healthy and safe community environments are able to detect and respond to both acute (emergency) and chronic (ongoing) threats to health (NPC, 2012).