Jul 15th, 2012 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Problems With Out of Home Care for Elderly

A hot topic in the news this season is the helpfulness–or lack thereof–of assisted living facilities (ALF) in caring for elderly loved ones.  Some news articles point to the variety of problems surfacing, and the lack of solutions.  Many of the articles suggest elderly seniors who have moved to ALFs could in fact have remained at home.  And further, they may have lived happier lives had they remained ‘at place’ in their own homes.

One specific area of concern about ALFs and nursing homes, is the problematic care given seniors who suffer from dementia.  Facilities are the first to admit they fall short of effectively addressing the needs of dementia residents.  When the behavior does not respond to the usual interventions, the staff usually resorts to medications to manage behavior.  And that may be effective, but drug management is more for the staff than it is for the resident.

Creative Options Are Better

Some better options surfaced recently in an article posted on AARPCare facilities in Massachusetts, New York and Arizona developed programs to address the needs of the residents, not those of the staff. One facility includes care plans that try to identify what is triggering the disruptive behavior, and then creates responses to soothe that behavior.  Another opened adult day care at night for dementia patients who cannot sleep.  A third identifies care plans that respond to the individual needs of residents, e.g. singing for those who are comforted by music or holding a doll for those residents with good memories about their children.  None of these facilities uses medications to address problematic behaviors that can be handled with a behavioral response.  Kudos to all three of these programs!

The problems with ALFs and nursing homes won’t go away.  SCJ editors have recently become aware of families choosing to keep their elderly loved ones at home and bring in home-health nursing care for what they are unable to do themselves. They believe their elders will be happier and enjoy the remainder of their days more if they are at home, surrounded by what is familiar and cared for by loving family members.

The issue needs to remain on the table for discussion by all and input from everyone on the front lines today.

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