As adults age, their physical needs gradually change, but emotional needs remain the same throughout life, including the need to interact with the world. As parents or grandparents of younger children, your parents they have a need to keep up with their charges and often seem to pull a reserve of energy from somewhere to stay physically active. Their emotional needs are met through daily interactions with the children/grandchildren they care for. Inevitably, however, seniors become less the caretaker and more the one who requires care, eventually requiring full-time attention from their children or caretakers at a facility.
Modern Trends In Nursing Homes
The majority of nursing homes today consider the mental and physical needs of their residents when designing the layout of their facilities and implementing social programs. While Medicare and Medicaid have increased access to home care by offering funding for needy seniors, many low-income seniors are still limited to residential nursing homes to find the care they need. Unfortunately, under-staffing and limited training of the nurses in how to care for diverse populations provide little opportunity for the neediest seniors to receive the emotional attention they need.
Dementia And Emotional Needs
Dementia is a cognitive disorder that affects every aspect of a senior’s existence, from their memory to their ability to cognitively interact with their environment. Seniors who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia often appear to be disconnected from others–even family. They still have the same emotional needs, however, even if they cannot express those needs to family and friends. Statistics show that in 2009, more than 51% of residents who live in nursing homes had dementia. Many senior residential facilities have begun to take a proactive role in providing their memory patients with an opportunity to interact with the world, even if it happens to be in a pre-fabricated setting. A Dementia Village allows seniors with dementia a chance to roam freely within an interactive environment and includes a store, restaurants and other common destinations to allow them to interact with environments they were regularly immersed in before their condition progressed.
How To Provide For The Emotional Needs Of Nursing Home Residents
When you place your loved one in a nursing home for the first time, you asked the administrator if you could see their monthly activities calendar. You probably asked him whether they had regular group outings, and what social events, clubs, and classes would be available to your loved one. Some other things you should consider asking before you decide on a nursing home include the following:
- Does the nursing home provide regular activities for all seniors, even those who might be bedridden or with limited mobility?
- How much true interaction is there between caretakers and residents? Do caretakers often spend time with residents outside the scope of their medical needs?
- Does the nursing home have therapy available for seniors who might be going through a difficult time?
- Is there a plan in place to handle resident-on-resident abuse and disputes?
Dealing With A Less-Than-Ideal Living Environment
Let’s face it, not all senior living facilities offer residents a stimulating and emotionally supportive environment. If your loved one happens to live in such a community, the best thing to do is find a more positive environment. If that is not a viable solution for your family, however, you can still ensure that your loved one is getting her emotional needs met. Maintain a presence within the community, be proactive and make suggestions to the administrator and other caregivers. Don’t feel guilty when “complaining” about a lack of social opportunities. Most importantly, if you’ve done everything you can do and don’t see improvements, contact your local Department of Aging and tell them what’s going on. All seniors deserve the same opportunity for an active, fulfilling life.