Improving Quality of Life with Person-Centered Care for Dementia Residents
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Many communities struggle to ensure the activities they provide to residents in long-term care are stimulating and meet each individuals’ psycho-social needs. When residents suffer from a dementia diagnosis, it can be a truly difficult task for the activity department to provide activities that will activate their senses and keep them engaged. If residents aren't engaged, their quality of life in your community decreases, which in turn, can affect your retention and recruitment of staff and new residents.
In 2014, there were approximately 5.2 million Americans over 65 diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. As the population continues to age and with the Baby Boomer generation entering their “Golden Years”, it’s estimated that 61 million Americans will have dementia.
Residents with dementia generally don’t recall memories from immediate recent events but can recall memories that are 20+ years in the past. The staff that provides care for the resident with dementia must remain flexible and able to identify when each resident is starting to become disengaged in the activity.
Residents don’t have to give up their interest, hobbies and/or personal likes just because they have dementia. Communities are faced with the challenge of providing Person-Centered Care to prevent a decline in the resident's overall activities of daily living (ADL’s). Many communities provide group activities for all levels of dementia that aren't always appropriate. It’s so important to find activities that can benefit everyone regardless of each resident’s level of dementia. Studies show that residents who are involved in activities have a decrease in agitation, improved alertness, decrease in boredom and an improvement in their ADL’s.
Some techniques that can be used to enhance activities for residents with dementia include:
- Consider the time of day. Morning activities can improve resident alertness and participation.
- Ensure the area is well lit. Many residents have vision problems. The bright light can also decrease behaviors and/or agitation for residents with dementia.
- Decrease noises and surrounding stimulation during the activities to improve resident participation.
- Provide activities that are age appropriate. If the activity is too simple or childlike, the resident may feel insulted.
- Encourage staff to really get to know their residents. For example, if the resident was a music teacher, music activities would most likely be a hit. If the resident was a farmer, growing tomato plants would stimulate their senses.
- Simplify the activity. Residents with dementia can get frustrated with an activity if there are too many steps or rules. If a resident misses a step, oh well, as long as they feel involved, successful and have a purpose.
- Repeat activities. If you find an activity that's successful with residents, try and schedule these 2 or 3 times a week. Residents with dementia still have pride in a job or task well done.
It can be overwhelming for communities to be able to ensure they’re following all the state and federal regulations. The day-to-day operations of your community are important but continue to pay attention to the activities that are needed to provide each resident with stimulation, empowerment and success in the final years of their lives.
For more information on person-centered care and risk management for senior living communities, contact a member of the 'A' Team.
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- Benefits of Family & Community Involvement in Senior Living
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