Category Archives: Strategy

Focus on Wellness in Senior Living Communities

Senior wellness programs improve quality of life

Wellness, as described by the National Wellness Institute, is an active process through which people make health and lifestyle choices toward a better life. For those who strive to improve their quality of life, they reduce their dependency on others and thrive from care tailored to their unique medical and non-medical needs.

That’s why senior wellness programs, especially in long-term senior living communities, are becoming more popular. Wellness programs offer residents opportunities to be more social, be active and promote a healthy lifestyle within the community for a better quality of life. Wellness programs have been known to help with overall well-being. Issues like depression, reduced mobility, lack of independence, safety concerns, and age-specific health issues can be addressed through senior wellness programs.

Many long-term care senior living facilities are recognizing these benefits and are beginning to offer a variety of wellness programs including nutrition, exercise classes and other mindfulness activities.

Wellness trends in senior living communities

Let’s take a look at the latest wellness trends that long-term care facilities are adding to their communities.

  • Aquatic pools: Swimming is an ideal workout for the elderly, mainly because of low impact exercise has a low risk of injury. Water exercises benefit all muscle groups in the body for a complete workout for seniors. Pools offer excellent walking lanes as well.
  • Therapy pools: Typically, therapy pools offer a warm-water experience and can help with lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress. Aqua yoga and Pilates classes are hot trends in therapy pools.
  • Open exercise space: Staying active longer in life shows to improve strength, balance and ability to perform activities of daily living and maintain a healthy and long-lived life. Open multipurpose spaces, with hideaway storage for equipment to help reduce clutter can make the environment attractive, yet practical. Group low-impact aerobics, yoga and other classes designed for seniors are ideal to host in this space.
  • Nutrition programs: More long-term care facilities are focusing on nutrition programs as part of their overall commitment to wellness. Multi-purpose spaces are a great area for nutrition classes, where group discussions and education for proper senior nutrition in mind: lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of opportunities for hydration.
  • Meditation rooms: Setting aside places for guided, or self-lead, meditation can help residents focus on mindfulness. A study in Journal of Social Behavior and Personality reportedly found that seniors who practiced meditation had significantly fewer hospitalizations. Other benefits of mindfulness include decreases in physical pain, reduced stress, and increases in relaxation, energy, self-esteem and even cognitive functioning.

Get the local community involved

Wellness programs do not have to be limited to your residents. Opening the space for the public to participate in wellness programs can be a great way for residents in long-term care facilities to help connect with the local community socially. Welcoming the public in this way also introduces your facility to the community so they can get to know you before they need you.

How to start a wellness programs for seniors in long-term care

Preventative programs, like senior wellness programs, are a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle for a better quality of life. Over time, wellness programs will move from a trend to the norm for long-term care senior living facilities. Ask us about how to implement spaces for wellness programs into your current campus or a new facility. Call (920) 969-9344 for a free consultation.

How Intergenerational Programs Benefit All Ages

Bridging the gap through connectedness

As an increasing number of Americans age, the gap between young and old becomes larger and larger. And with it, comes gaps in knowledge of each other’s generation. Intergenerational programs offer great ways to help bridge these gaps, encouraging people of all ages to connect with one another, build meaningful relationships and work together on programs that help entire communities. These programs not only offer many benefits, but they are easy to adapt within your senior living facility.

What are intergenerational programs?

Intergenerational programs bring together seniors and young people to build unexpected friendships, learn new skills and encourage community service. Intergenerational programs can range from planned, all-day activities to casual, hour-long discussions. Examples of intergenerational programs include teens pairing with seniors to give tech lessons, providing companionship or assisting with everyday errands, or seniors mentoring youth, offering childcare services or teaching oral history. These programs can also bring both sides together to work on community service projects, such as cleaning up a local park or raising funds for a local charity.

Intergenerational programs benefits

Intergenerational programs offer numerous benefits to people of all ages. These programs encourage relationship building and engagement in the community, which can help prevent isolation and depression in seniors. According to Generations United, intergenerational programs even offer health benefits to seniors. Older adults who work regularly with young children burn more calories, have fewer falls and perform better on cognitive tests than those who don’t.

These activities also provide opportunities for seniors and their younger counterparts to interact with each other and gain a better understanding of each generation, discouraging ageism toward seniors and teaching teens how to speak to and build respect with their elders. These dynamic partnerships can also provide kids with a role model, and participating in these programs regularly can keep them out of trouble. Intergenerational programs that double as community service or volunteer projects can also help teens earn credits for school or explore potential career opportunities.

H2: How to adopt intergenerational programs in your facility

The options for incorporating intergenerational programs into your senior living community are endless. Building weekly or monthly programs into your senior living facility builds routine and stability for both age groups and encourages relationships to grow over time.

To bring intergenerational programs into your facility, contact the guidance counselor at your local schools or send newsletters to your residents’ families. Many family members and grandchildren would love the chance to share in these activities and provide a loving environment to seniors who may feel isolated. Even seniors who participate in activities and have family members close by will benefit from interaction with local youth.

Here are a few examples of intergenerational programs that you can try adding to your facility:

  • Reach out to a local high school class to see if they would be willing to teach basic computer or mobile device skills to seniors.
  • Set up monthly oral history lessons from seniors, with a theme or topic each meeting.
  • Invite local organizations to hold meetings in your space, giving seniors the opportunity to stay engaged in the community while feeling a sense of accomplishment.
  • Partner seniors with youth to offer mentoring or tutoring.
  • Schedule teens to stop by your senior living facility each week to spend time with seniors to help them with simple tasks, such as running to the post office or drugstore.
  • Consider adding a childcare space to your facility. This interaction with young children has been shown to improve seniors mental and physical health.

If you’re still at a loss of what programs to offer in your senior living community, just ask. Asking seniors what they need help with or what activities they would like to participate in will make them feel valued, and give you some fun ideas for intergenerational programs that you can adopt in your facility.

H2: How senior living facilities can encourage intergenerational programs

As the needs and expectations for senior living communities grow, so do the needs for the facilities they run in. In order for a senior living facility to encourage participation in intergenerational programs, the facility must allow for multiple uses and offer a comfortable environment for people of all ages.

Considering factors like facility efficiency, room for expansions or upgrades, evolving technology, and recreational opportunities are all important when deciding to add intergenerational programs in your senior living facility.

If you’re looking to adopt some of these programs in your facility, contact us at 920-969-9344 to see how we can make your facility friendly to all generations.

 

Person-Centered Care for Dementia

 

 

What we can learn from Hogeweyk and other unique care villages

Hogeweyk, a village in the Netherlands made up of seniors living with dementia and their caretakers, was developed in 2009 after a nearly 20-year stint as a traditional nursing home. The concept captures attention in our industry for its innovative approach to caring for people with memory loss. Since Hogeweyk’s inception, other similar villages followed the unique design, both in the United States and abroad. Much of Hogeweyk’s design features a host of activities that focus on individual tastes—a part of what we have now come to know as person-centered care for dementia.

If you haven’t heard about Hogeweyk, it’s a village of 23 homes, a grocery store, entertainment venues and parklike spaces. While a resident can shop in the store or even buy a beer at a pub, for those with advanced dementia, the currency they use is fake. But, to them, the experience of living in this village is very real.

Rising needs for memory care

As we reported in our “Memory Care Facility Design” blog last March, as baby boomers age, we can expect a significant uptick in the need for memory care. The industry is already responding, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC). The NIC says that at the end of 2015, the industry added more than 7,000 memory care units in 2015 alone, a 7.4 percent increase. At the end of 2015, 12,200 memory care units were under construction.

It may come as no surprise, then, that those who are preparing for an influx of residents needing memory care look to unique practices for ideas on how to provide the best care to this population. That’s where person-centered care for dementia finds success.

Memory care trends point to person-centered care

Very few in the industry have the financial ability to build a village, but the feeling of inclusion and independence is something that can be replicated. Although more than 150 people live in the village, it remains a great example of person-centered care. Studies have shown that in person-centered care, dementia patients respond positively to participating in activities they personally enjoy, having a say in their care and living in a homelike environment.

LeadingAge discussed some ways members are making personal connections—and therefore focusing on the individual—in memory care. Here are just a few of the ideas:

  • A senior living community in Louisville, Ky., learns the life story of residents before they enter care. Residents are paired with a “best friend,” who helps make connections to their life before they entered a senior living community.
  • This same facility uses these life stories to find ways to calm agitated residents. A former lawyer is given a legal brief to read when he becomes upset; a former baker is given flour to work with, as if to make biscuits.
  • Many communities find other ways for residents to participate in activities that were once a big part of their lives. For example, pianists and singers entertain or lead religious service hymns.

It’s important to also note that person-centered care focuses as much on what individuals don’t like to do. One Texas administrator pointed to the popular activity of bingo as an example of understanding individual tastes, “Some people absolutely hate the number calling … and the repetitiveness. Why are you going to put someone in that position if it’s something that they don’t tolerate?”

Ask us how we can help

As you can see, you don’t need to build an entire village to find ways to implement person-centered care for dementia. But, you will need to find ways—inside and outside of your facility—to accommodate residents’ favored activities. Nature lovers will appreciate courtyards and walking trails. Artists may want a quiet, well-lit area to practice their craft.

If you are considering remodeling your community to accommodate memory care patients or are thinking about adding a memory care unit to your current facility, give us a call. Our process begins with a master plan that includes a market analysis. For your free consultation, contact Terry McLaughlin at 920-969-9344.

Senior Care Technology: The Future is Now

 

Technology for Senior Living Communities

From robots to wearables, senior care technology is evolving before our eyes. While senior living communities struggle with recruiting a quality workforce, these technologies have some promising applications. The use of this technology and the data it gathers could reduce stress on a workforce already spread thin while providing valuable health and wellness information to caregivers.

We wanted to share just a few of the technologies we’ve read about that are already changing the way seniors live.

Health monitoring devices for elderly residents

As technology keeps pace with aging baby boomers, innovators are discovering that developing products specifically for the burgeoning elderly population is lucrative business. In fact, the senior care technology market is now estimated at nearly $280 million. The health monitoring devices already worn by people of all ages are giving way to products that not only monitor an individual’s health but can also collect data on specific conditions to provide life-saving feedback.

Here are just a few of the latest tech trends in health monitoring:

  • Smart clothes that monitor health and prompt medication reminders now make up the largest share of the smart textile industry. It’s expected this industry, which is fast replacing smart watches and other devices, will grow to $843 million by 2021. Among the smart clothes on the market are socks that diabetic patients wear to warn them of a pending risk of foot ulcers.
  • Smart eating utensils and cups now collect data on hand tremors, specifically for those who live with Parkinson’s disease. They also are programmed to remind users to drink plenty of water, for instance.
  • Finally, while many may worry that robots will replace people in jobs (or, in some cases, are replacing), robots may be a welcoming reality in senior care. It’s expected that the 65+ population will increase 181 percent by 2050 while those ages 15 to 65 will increase just 33 percent. That leaves no doubt senior living communities will need to find staffing alternatives. The answer may be robots that measure vital signs, answer basic health questions, send alerts about people who have fallen and provide general assistance to care staff.

Assistive technology for the elderly

Health monitoring devices for elderly residents are also doubling as assistive technology for the elderly.

For example, some smart clothes are equipped with sensors that send a vibration to the blind or visually impaired to warn them of upcoming obstacles—the closer the obstacle, the stronger the vibration. Clothing also can detect imbalance, warning people of a potential fall risk. Some wearables are even equipped with airbags that deploy to cushion a fall, lessening the chance of broken bones.

As seniors move less and have poorer circulation, they often complain of cold hands and feet. Digitsole® is an interactive shoe insole that keeps a person’s feet warm. The temperature can be changed with use of a smartphone app.

Technology exists for ALS and MS patients, whether they are elderly or not, to control lights, TVs, window shades, heat and air conditioning, and more with the blink of their eyes. It’s expected this is the future for assisted living and skilled nursing facilities caring for residents with mobility issues.

And while robots are expected to work side-by-side with caregivers, they are already providing needed mental stimulation to those in long-term care. These social assistive robots interact and communicate with residents, providing therapy, entertainment and companionship.

  • A robotic dog used in a memory care facility in Durham, N.C., brought great relief to residents, increasing their engagement and reducing stress.
  • PARO® has garnered much press in the industry. The adorable baby seal responds to residents who speak and pet the robot.

How to benefit from senior care technology

As tech savvy baby boomers —in relation to their parents—enter senior living communities in coming years, they will expect facilities to be connected for easy access to laptops, mobile devices and cloud-based apps. But, the future of senior living communities also depends on how other technologies can be used to offset labor shortages and improve the bottom line. In fact, many of the technologies discussed may open the door to new opportunities to differentiate yourself and add a new revenue stream by offering services to the greater community outside your doors.

If you are looking to update your facility to accommodate new technologies or if you’d like to build a new technologically advanced community, contact us for a free consultation. Or, call Terry McLaughlin at 920-969-9344.

Establishing Remembrances of Deceased Loved Ones at Senior Living Communities

Helping families honor someone after death

By Troy Ann Kasuboski, Director of Business Development

My family and I recently said good-bye to my father, a proud family man and U.S. veteran who lived his final days in an assisted living community due to Alzheimer’s disease.

As we planned the funeral, we took great care in recognizing his legacy of military service with a 21-gun salute and flag folding ceremony. And, we asked friends and relatives to remember him by donating to Alzheimer’s research to help end the disease that took his life.

All of these plans were made prior to the funeral while my mother, siblings and I were in the throes of grief. It was at the funeral where I realized we missed an opportunity to establish another remembrance for our deceased loved one.

A way to thank my father’s final caregivers

I had written about my parent’s individual health issues in my blog on “Acceptance by choice or circumstance.” These health issues left them separated in different senior care communities. My mother healed and returned home; my father remained in assisted living, being treated by a wonderful team of caregivers.

When the family who owns the assisted living facility where my father was cared for came to the funeral to pay their respects, they were full of praise for my dad. I was so touched they took the time to express their condolences in person that they stayed in my mind long after the ceremony was done. That’s when I realized our family had recognized his military service and the disease that took him, yet we didn’t recognize those who cared for him in the end.

Given the chance to recast the family vote, I would have pitched establishing a memorial fund at Dad’s assisted living community. The facility is in dire need of improvements, and our contributions could have made a long-term impact.

Helping families pay tribute to a loved one who passed away

Many long-term care communities don’t have a memorial giving program, and I suspect many feel that asking for donations is an imposition during a time of grief. But, having just gone through the grieving process, I know I would have welcomed information on how to leave a lasting legacy to Dad’s caregiving team. Our funeral home provided resources on contributing to Alzheimer’s research. Why couldn’t a senior living community do the same?

Giving families a simple packet that includes ways to honor someone after death is an unobtrusive way to make an ask. Appeal to the family by talking about your facility’s needs that will boost the quality of life for residents who remain and those who are yet to arrive. The ask goes beyond the memorial bench or tree we see so often at our long-term care communities. It needs to educate the family on the most fiscally responsible, long-term way of leaving a legacy that benefits others on a local level.

Millions of people are in long-term care, and about one-quarter of them remain there for more than three years. During that time, you often bond not only with the resident but with his or her family. The work you do in providing care and safety to loved ones is a blessing to these families. If you don’t already have a giving program in place, I encourage you to start one. You may be surprised at how willing these family members may be to contribute to the place that brought their parents or loved ones comfort during their final days and years.

If you’ve established a memorial program at your long-term care facility, I’d love to hear from you. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

– Troy