In our latest video, meet FOX Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist, Jessica Pehlman, who has served and partnered with our team at Arbor Terrace Exton for 7 years. Jessica shares a sneak peak of what your elevated senior living experience can look like with experienced caregivers that are by your side every step of the way.
To Jessica, therapy is much more about applying a solution to fix a problem, it’s about being proactive when it comes to your healthcare needs so you can live your best and brightest years to the fullest. With comprehensive screenings and assessments, detailed plans that change when your needs do, and safety and security at the forefront of all we do, this is everything a vibrant retirement should be.
Hi everyone, and welcome to an episode of Senior Living Live. My name is Mary Cate Spires, and I am here at Arbor Terrace Exton, and I'm so lucky to be joined by Miss Jessica Pehlman. Thank you for having us.
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
And for our audience, kind of just tell us who you are and how you're related to the community.
Yeah, so my name is Jessica Pehlman, I am an occupational therapist. I've been an occupational therapist for fourteen years. I have been working in Arbor communities for almost seven years though. And I've been at this community in Exton since it opened, April two years ago. And I just love working with my residents. They feel like family to me.
That is amazing. I love that you've been working with Arbor for so long. That's great.
So tell me. What do you feel like the of how the availability of actually having a rehab partner in the building, how does that enhance the senior living experience?
Oh my gosh. In so many ways that you probably can't even count. So it adds to the community feel in that there's another person here that can help the residents. It also adds in, helping someone get their apartment set up to be as safe as they can be, especially when they first move in, but also as their needs change. We continue to assess their environment in their own apartment, get the necessary equipment that they may need. We also help them get through maybe their diagnoses, whether they're a new diagnosis or an old diagnosis. We help educate them on what they can do to live their most optimal life.
So walk me through a little bit more about say someone moves in. What are the, what's the first step? What happens?
So we try to meet them within the first day or so, introduce ourselves, but not overwhelm them because they're learn, you know, learning so many new names, so many new faces. We just tell them what our role is. And then within the first forty eight hours or so, we'll do a screening on them to see if they're someone that would be a good candidate for therapy. Even if they don't have many ailments, we still may do the screening and find something really subtle that could help them improve if they were to do therapy. One of the biggest things we educate our residents on when they first move in is reducing their risk for having a fall. So we want to make sure that we're being proactive and not reactive with that.
For sure. And so if someone does come to you, is working with you in the community, what does that look like? What types of services are going on?
So as an occupational therapist, it could look like anything. Sometimes my therapy sessions are working directly in someone's apartment, making sure they can get in and out of the cabinets, in and out of the refrigerator, in and out of their bathroom safely. Or my sessions could look like an exercise program in the therapy gym. We have our own space here at Arbor Terrace Exton, which is really nice. It's a very bright space, free of clutter. So we have a lot of room to move around. It may look like they're doing some strengthening or weight training it may look like they're, working on their balance stepping over objects, practicing picking up objects, We're definitely challenging someone's balance in the therapy gym space. But also it's a very safe controlled environment so that my residents don't feel like they're going to fall, but they're challenging themselves.
What do you think the benefit of actually being here in the building is for the residents?
Oh, I would say just having another familiar face, another person to rely on that they can ask questions to. Also another resource for their family members because oftentimes their family wants to know how they're doing. So I can give them more of a clinical update, whereas maybe the resident isn't able to give them that type of update. So.
Do you work a lot with the families, talking with them? They may, do they maybe they even come and join?
Absolutely. Yeah. Sometimes with families or if a grandchild is visiting, we'll even, engage them in the therapy, and it just makes it more motivating for the resident to do their therapy because sometimes, you know, therapy can be hard work, and it's not always something somebody wants to do. But we definitely incorporate family whenever we can. And then, the other thing is if families want to be involved, I almost always give families my contact information, I reach out to them before we start therapy services. I can reach out to them during therapy services. So whatever that family wants is what we can provide them with information, as long as it's, you know, as long as the resident would like that as well.
So sometimes we might be in a situation where communication can be difficult. Communication can be difficult with anyone. And of course, you're doing a lot of hands on activities and all of that. How do you maybe overcome when sometimes it's not a hundred percent clear when you're working with the resident, if that makes sense.
So I would have to say that I have a lot of approaches in my toolbox that I can pull from. So a lot of the first part of my therapy is building rapport with the resident and trying to see what makes them tick. And then once I can build some rapport, I'm a familiar face, I'm a trustworthy person to them, then I'll kind of pull in activities that are engaging for that person. I personalized all of my therapy sessions. I, you know, I tailor them to the person. So I try to get in the door that way as far as communication goes.
That's incredible. And obviously, therapy is so helpful for so many reasons. But what are some other wellness practices or even programs that seniors could think about or participate in for their overall health.
Yeah. That's great. So therapy doesn't last forever. So, you know, from day one when I evaluate my clients, I'm always thinking about discharge planning because it does have to come to an end. So part of my education with every resident is ways that they can continue to remain active in the community. So, our community has an exercise group that happens every day at ten thirty. And the group topic or the group exercise is different every day. So some days they'll bring in an an outside yoga instructor. Some days, they'll bring in an outside Zumba instructor. Other days they're playing tennis with a balloon, and they all have paddles. And that's of the most popular activities here. So I always try to encourage the residents to go to that one. Everybody ends up leaving their laughing and super happy, but they're also being physical while they're doing it, and they don't even realize it. The community offer, also offers a walking club a couple times a week, where they'll go outside and walk. And, there's always an activities, or an engagement, person with them. So they feel safe walking outside, but getting some fresh air. And again, they don't even realize they're really exercising because they're just doing something that they enjoy with their friends in the community. The other thing that Fox offers is a wellness program. So after someone is discharged from therapy, if they still really like that one on one connection and opportunity for exercise, we can provide them with a wellness program. Or, oh, the other thing is, we also provide the resident with an exercise program if they're able to carry out that exercise program by themselves, or if they can't do it by themselves, they can do it with a family member, and we can work one on one with that resident and the family member to make sure everybody understands and feels safe doing that exercise program when their family members visit.
Wow. There's a lot of options. That's amazing.
It is. Yes. Oh, as much as we love having our residents participate in therapy, we wanna see them thrive after therapy.
Of course. That's you work yourself out of a job, but, you know, it'll be great. Jessica, thank you so much. This has been such valuable information.
I know you're very busy, so thank you for stopping. And taking a little bit of time to talk to us.
Absolutely. My pleasure.
For everybody else, if you'd like to know more about Arbor's Exton or learn more about senior living topics, you can go to SeniorLivingLive.com to see more videos just like this one. And also we are a proud partner with Fox Rehab, and you can learn more about them, through some of our webinars, and, of course, their website as well. Thanks everybody.