Kinder & Gentler Elder Care

Posted on July 16th, 2012, by iMinerva

llamas

Any of us who has had the difficult responsibility of caring for an aging parent or spouse, knows the lack of good options available to ensure quality of life care for our loved ones. While home care may be the first preference, it’s not without its own set of challenges and limitations. And nursing homes too often range from poor to horrific. Finding the right care facility for an Alzheimer or dementia patient can be overwhelming or even impossible in some communities.

The current AARP Bulletin brings hopeful news of new directions for the future…as seen in the work of Travis, a therapy llama in Massachusetts.  Travis, who lives at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Mass, brings a smile and tender moments to the residents who otherwise may not be stimulated by the typical television programming typically found at nursing homes. 

As one daughter of a Life Care Center resident explained in the article, “Even if she can’t express it in language, my mother can feel.  This place taps into emotions and encourages residents to express them.” Life Care Centers has 200 facilities in 28 states spread coast to coast.

The philosophy of care at the center focuses on identifying the behavior triggers when a resident is disturbed or disruptive rather than simply treating the problem with sedatives.  An example of this was a woman who had been a librarian.  Whenever she became agitated, the staff would hand her a book – which would immediately calm her as she flipped through the pages and caressed it.

Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix is also cited as a nursing center where the emphasis is on “comfort”  instead of drug therapy.  “‘We want to do for people what they would do for themselves if they could.'” explained Tena Alonzo, the director of research at Beatitudes.  This means residents sleep and eat on their own schedule and participate in activities they like – nothing is required.  A martini before dinner or a bath at 3am are examples of the flexible care provided.  Beatitudes offers the full range of senior living from independent living to at-home care to assisted living and nursing care.

ElderServe at Night in the Bronx, NY, is another brilliant innovation in senior care created by the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.  While programs for adult day care are beginning to become popular in many cities, ElderServe offers caregivers a break for the evening and a chance at a sound night’s sleep.   The program offers socializing, activities, meals, prescription dispensing, and a safe envirnoment – the same care provided in adult day care but on the night shift.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of new attitudes and options in senior care.  For more information, visit aarp.org/caregivers.  You might also want to follow the blog by Sally Abrahms who researched this information.

(Photo provided by haha.nu)

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