Mariah LeRoux

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Janet Jedlicka


Title: Enhancing the Leisure, Social Participation and Quality of Life of Older Adults Isolated during the COVID-19 Pandemic

APA Citation Mariah LeRoux, OTDS. Enhancing the Leisure, Social Participation and Quality of Life of Older Adults Isolated during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Department of Occupational Therapy, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 1301 N Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

Purpose The purpose of this scholarly project was to enhance the performance range of older adults in assisted living by equipping them with the skills to engage in meaningful occupations throughout a pandemic. The meaningful occupations outlined in this project include leisure and social participation occupations to promote positive mental and physical health.

Methodology This scholarly project was completed over 18 months. It began with a thorough literature review of current evidence to serve as the needs assessment. The process began in 2021 while looking at the mental health impact of COVID-19 lockdown precautions on older adults. The research identified a significant increase in mental health symptoms in older adults due to social distancing protocols and extreme isolation. It was also noted that there were few interventions to address this societal issue. The literature review then led to the impact of participation in social and leisure occupations on older adults and found positive mental and physical health benefits. This scholarly project was guided by the Ecology of Human Performance (EHP) model. This model places heavy emphasis on the social, physical, temporal, and cultural contexts, which are key factors limiting older adults’ participation in meaningful activity (Dunn, 1994).

Results The products developed throughout this scholarly project were a program (product one) titled: Increasing Occupational Engagement in Older Adults during a Pandemic, and an education session for facilitators (product two) titled: Promoting Positive Mental Health through Social Participation and Leisure during a Pandemic. Product one has six sections including: mental health, leisure exploration, social participation, routine modification, community mobility, and technology. Product two is a 30-minute education session for occupational therapists (OT) and certified occupational therapy assistants (COTA) who will facilitate this program. The education session informs them on the mental and physical health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the benefits of leisure, social participation, and meaningful engagement to promote this participation in residents.

Conclusions It is anticipated that this program will fill the gap in addressing the mental health, leisure, and social participation needs of older adults amidst the pandemic. This contributes to occupational therapy practice by providing more resources and to decrease occupational deprivation and isolation in older adults in assisted living facilities.