Western New York’s Senior Living Resource

Independent Senior Living Collaborative

Buffalo Occupational Therapy


Rehabilitation Services| Buffalo NY | Buffalo OT

Michelle Eliason, MS, OTR/L, C.D.S, CKTS


In 2018, Aging with Purpose, by means of Buffalo Occupational Therapy, launched the Independent Senior Living Collaborative™ program for WNY’s senior living apartments and communities. New York State has recently ranked 4th in the United States for residents over the age of 65 and this number is trended to continue increasing. With this increase and lack of quality long term care facilities in New York, it is critical to keep adults in their place of choice throughout the aging process despite physical ailments, cognitive changes, and/or injury.  According to Erie County Senior Services, there are 184 independent senior living environments in Erie County alone (1) which house over one thousand seniors over the age of 55. Because occupational therapists are uniquely trained to intervene throughout the lifespan to promote independence and productive aging, Buffalo Occupational Therapy  has developed the Independent Senior Living Collaborative™. 


WNY Senior Living Occupational Therapy

The Independent Senior Living Collaborative™ is a collaboration between independent senior living apartments/communities and occupational therapy to  promote healthy aging and aging in place for community-dwelling adults living independently. Occupational therapists  develop long-term relationships with  patients in order to monitor them throughout their course of aging and provide continuity of care. There are many benefits to to this established relationship including:


  • Provide early intervention for physical and cognitive ailments/changes that can be corrected or maintained before impeding one’s ability to live independently. An established relationship will allow therapists to quickly detect subtle changes before escalation.
  • Promote Primary Care Physician (PCP) and specialist collaboration. All changes and treatment plans will be communicated and approved by one’s current primary care to ensure he/she is given the best possible intervention. If a change requires outside involvement, an occupational therapist can issue a referral to a specialist.
  •  Treatments are based on what is meaningful to the client. Occupation, in terms of occupational therapy, means meaningful activity. This means that although an occupational therapist is highly trained in treatment interventions, an  occupational therapist’s goal is not based on one’s specific point of pain, bone, muscle, or diagnosis– it is based on any activity being affected by that specific problem. An occupational therapist will use physical, neurological, social, and/or mental-based rehabilitation to design a treatment plan which will improve one’s ability to complete the meaningful activity being affected. In terms of the Independent Senior Living Collaborative™any time memory, mobility, a daily activity, or a hobby is affected, the occupational therapist will be able to evaluate and determine if there is a need for treatment or referral. All treatments are done in home/community.

Michelle Eliason, MS, OTR/L, C.D.S, CKTS  is both an occupational therapist and CARES Dementia Specialist. She has been an elder care professional for 7+ years. Working in various aspects of the elder care industry has given her a generalist skill set and a broad knowledge base of elder care approaches and resources. Michelle is passionate about influencing the elder care industry advocating against nursing home negligence and elder abuse, and working with older adults to enable them to live in their own homes throughout the aging process.

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