Empowering occupational therapy practitioners with a playbook of functional tasks to use with their geriatric clients



Historically, the focus of my practice has been ADLs. I spent most of my time working on ADLs and the rest addressing deficits in performance skills that were directly related to ADL performance. Lately, though, as I have spent more time working to address functional cognition skills, I have started to incorporate a greater variety of intervention activities into my practice. In a step outside of my comfort zone, I have started to incorporate more creative activities into my treatment. This includes arts and crafts when these activities are identified by my clients as meaningful occupations.

As I have done this, I’ve been thinking about a quote by Mary Reilly that I heard a lot in OT school: “Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health.” While I still place a lot of value on ADL based interventions, I am trying to remember that using our hands, mind, and will in creative pursuits can be powerful.


Develop functional cognition skills, particularly following directions and problem solving


Great for 1:1 treatment – Great for concurrent or group treatment

Time Frame

10-60 minutes

Materials Required

  • Office or origami quality paper in a variety of colors
  • Instructions to create 2-3 objects (flowers, animals, boxes, etc)
  • Scissors


  • Create a folder with instructions to create a variety of objects. Ensure that all instructions that descriptions as well as pictures or diagrams. Include instructions for objects with varying degrees of complexity.
  • Prior to beginning with a client, select 2-3 objects that which are appropriate to the client’s ability level from which the client may choose.


  1. Invite the client to choose an object to create and a piece of paper to use.
  2. If using office paper, direct the client (use demonstration or assistance as needed) to create a square piece of paper.
  3. Provide client with instructions and direct client to follow instructions to complete project. If client needs assistance, demonstrate instructions to client one step at a time.

Special Notes

Clients who have strength or coordination deficits in their hands may have difficulty folding paper for complex designs which require precision.

While books can be purchased with special paper and instructions, many origami tutorials are available online and can be completed with whatever paper you have available. PDF documents with descriptions and diagrams can be found by searching online and easily printed. YouTube also has videos that can be followed.

This activity can be graded by progressing from:

  • Creating a simple object to creating a more complex object
  • Following a therapist demonstration to following a video demonstration to following written instructions
  • Following instructions to create an object to teaching a peer to create an object

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