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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Watson

Why Engagement Is The Key Element That Makes The Difference in Eldercare

The vision that most older people have when talking about Long Term Care is sitting all day in a chair with nothing to do. But we've come a long way baby! With the many different options in senior care these days, engagement is often what sets communities apart.

This is not to say that you will not still find communities that "park" the residents in front of the TV all day. Unfortunately they still exist. They claim that residents do not want to participate in activities. Furthermore, they state, people with dementia can't or won't try new things.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Keeping those with dementia engaged reduces behavior problems. This will reduce the need for psychotropic medications often used to curb these undesirable behaviors. Engaging older persons with dementia has beneficial effects.(1:2)

  • increasing positive emotions,

  • improving activities of daily living (ADL)

  • improving the quality of life

I hate Bingo!!

While some residents really enjoy playing bingo others clearly do not! Engagement is not just about playing games. There are a variety of different types of activities that are considered "dementia appropriate". The key is to get the person with dementia involved in something.

Music and Dementia

Music is becoming very popular as an activity and a way to treat people with dementia. Numerous studies have now shown the value of adding music. Music may be used for relaxation and to calm someone who may be agitated. It may also be used as a way to stimulate someone who has withdrawn. Residents who have not spoken in months may suddenly come alive with music.

The key is to really get to know each resident as an individual. Know what their likes and dislikes are and what they were like as children. Did they have a religious upbringing? Was it a positive experience? If so they may enjoy singing along to favorite spiritual songs from the past. Maybe they enjoyed dancing with their spouse when they were young. Get some of the music they liked from the past.

When you dig in and really get to know your residents engaging them will be easy. The experience will be rewarding for the staff and the residents.

Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.

1.Montessori-based activities for long-term care residents with advanced dementia: effects on engagement and affect.

Orsulic-Jeras S, Judge KS, Camp CJ

Gerontologist. 2000 Feb; 40(1):107-11.

2.Engelman K, Altus DE, Mathews RM. Increasing engagement in daily activities by older adults with dementia. J Appl Behav Anal.1999;32(1):107–110.

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