Montessori methods – beyond child’s play for dementia care

automobile di latta a molla - setteMontessori’s education method for childhood learning was launched in the early 1900s by Maria Montessori.  It calls for free activity within a “prepared environment”, meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human characteristics, to the specific characteristics of children at different ages, and to the individual personalities of each child. The function of the environment is to help and allow the child to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner psychological directives. In addition to offering access to the Montessori materials appropriate to the age of the children, the environment should exhibit the following characteristics:

  • An arrangement that facilitates movement and activity
  • Beauty and harmony
  • Cleanliness of environment
  • Construction in proportion to the child and her/his needs
  • Limitation of materials, so that only material that supports the child’s development is included
  • Nature in the classroom and outside of the classroom
  • Order

Thankfully, advances in the field of elder caregiving have moved activities beyond the three Bs (bingo, birthdays and Bible) to more resident centered engagement activities.  Culture change initiatives have definitely helped to push the creative buttons of activity, memory care and  resident engagement leaders to foster the understanding that every person has individual needs and capabilities and a one-size fits all approach simply doesn’t work.

Montessori is NOT a program but a philosophy  based on individualism.  Translating this to eldercare, the Montessori philosophy is neither difficult to understand and certainly not complicated or expensive to integrate.  A few key points to get started is to take time to:

  • Understand the elder’s interests and needs
  • Learn their current physical, social and emotional needs
  • Create opportunities for them to develop their capabilities
  • Encourage positive learning by keeping it simple
  • Develop positive communication skills (slow down, use eye contact, use skilled touch to engage)
  • Use humor and always smile – it will help relieve frustration and build trust between care partners

And lastly remember basic eldercare protocol:

  • Don’t use materials that are childish
  • Limit other stimuli while trying to engage in an activity.  ex: tv off is almost always going to lead to more successful engagement
  • Avoid at all costs, correcting someone but instead guide them gently as they attempt to accomplish a task.
  • Remember there is never a “right” or “wrong” way to do something

www.AGEucate.com

Vitality, Joy and Celebrating the Excitement of Living

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 10.42.29 AMHow do you create a senior care community that truly enhances the lives of their residents?  By doing the right things for the right reasons.  Vitality, joy and celebrating the excitement of living was exactly what I felt from the time I entered the doors of Cherrywood Village Retirement Community in Portland, OR last week.

Never underestimate the value of a first impression.  As I drove up to the Village Center, around the 18 hole putting green and the  beautifully landscaped walking paths, I was looking forward with anticipation to what was inside.

A Village Center it was… with happy people visiting in the village cafe, some just wrapping up their daily work-out in the fitness center,  visiting and (I’m guessing) planning the rest of their day.  Would it be a trip to the in house movie theater, soda shop, art studio, enjoying some quiet time in the library or getting ready for the Irish dancers who would be performing that evening?

Vitality = Happy People

My first impression was that this was a happy place filled with happy people.  Residents mingled with staff as if they were family.   The Village Center was vibrant, inviting and a definitely a place that celebrated the excitement of living.

Vitality didn’t stop at the Village Center.  Their Parkview Memory Care is transformational.   The well designed “village concept” integrated a Snoezelen room, chapel, movie theater, always-open diner, and the absolutely awesome real 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook for residents to actually sit in and take care of in Wally’s Garage.    Imagine their residents actually getting to ride in this lovingly restored auto?  Residents were taking care of life like babies, fully engaging with attentive staff.  I can only imagine how overjoyed their families are to have their loved ones in such a vibrant community where, despite living with dementia, their mom, dad or spouse are still living a life of joy and purpose. That’s vitality!

While I was there, I learned more about the nationally recognized Generations community founded by Wendell White.  Mr. White grew up caring for the elderly, so his passion and vision for creating a place for seniors to live fully was learned at an early age. Now the White children are leading the organization in carrying out the vision their father has established.

Generations has an envious high employee longevity.  Their relationship-based management practices speaks volumes of their respect and investment in each and every employee, whom after talking with them, say “this is an incredible place to work.. they really value us.”

Here are Generations’ core values:

  • world class excellence for the residents and employees they serve
  • create environments that enhance lives
  • celebrate the excitement of living
  • excellence in the stewardship of our communities
  • honore the goals and missions of our campus partners

This company lives their values.  They do the right things for the right reasons for their residents, employees, and the communities  they serve.

Is it a winning model?  You bet it is!

 

www.generationsllcwww.snoezelen.info

 

 

Comparing Apples and Oranges… A Personal Perspective

apples and orangesComparing apples to oranges is a phrase to describe something which is both the same and different simultaneously depending on your point of view. When someone says “you’re comparing apples to oranges” they’re really saying “Why are you trying to compare those things? You can’t compare apples to oranges, they’re just not the same thing.”

Let’s relate this analogy to  senior care  – with  another story that  hits close to home. Last August, my 91 year-old mother-in-law suffered a massive stroke. Initially, there was little hope of survival let alone any quality of life, as the stroke left her paralyzed on one side, speech was significantly altered and cognitive abilities impaired.  For months her quality of life looked bleak.

The first skilled nursing facility to which she was admitted was lovely with all the latest interior design features, a valet to greet us at the front door. Had I not been far too familiar with what to look for in “quality care”, it would impress anyone.

Unfortunately my first indication that the culture was less than adequate was when my husband and I signed in. We asked politely if we needed a badge and was told by the receptionist that she couldn’t find where they were and “I don’t really care if you have a badge.”

Halls were devoid of any activity (though they were “lovely”), staff was hard to find and I noticed most people lying in bed with TVs blaring. When we entered my mother-in-law’s room she was alone and slumped over in her wheelchair, facing a wall with her food tray nearby. Her “meal” was cold soup and grilled cheese. At the time it was delivered, I’m sure it was warm. Everything was exactly where it was when it was delivered. Why? Because the person who delivered her food did not stay to help her get utensils out of the plastic bag (really?), put sugar in her ice tea, or take the lids off her food. She had a stroke with only one side of her body able to move (and it was not her dominant side). SHE NEEDED HELP! I’m pretty sure this is in the “Caregiving 101” manual of any facility, but now I’m wondering?!?

Weeks went by with my amazing sister-in-law by her side constantly to monitor each and every detail. And at each every turn there were challenges. Weight loss, swelling, bed sores, an apparent lack of trained staff at every juncture. It was clear that this community had problems, the core being there was no culture of care. Nothing was getting better, so things HAD to change.

Being a veteran, she was able to get into the Tennessee State Veterans Home  skilled nursing facility. She was greeted with a warm welcome by a team of healthcare professionals ready to get her better – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Today, she is thriving. She has caregivers that truly care for  her, activities that engage her mind and body, and an atmosphere of teamwork among staff. She is taken to community events, shopping, and other recreational activities. She has engaged with staff and residents and knows practically everyone by name. It is truly a culture that exhibits person-centered values above all else. It would probably not win an award for interior design, but in fact has won awards for the level of care and commitment they have for their residents.

As with so many things in life – It’s not in the packaging.. it’s what’s inside. Comparing apples and oranges when it comes to senior care. You have to look beyond the packaging.

The AGE-u-cated® Care Team, Family Member and Organization

No misspelling here.   Who needs  AGE-u-cation?  Our care teams, family members, elder care providers, hospitals,  business community, churches, non-profits need to be MUCH better AGE-u-cated®!

It’s no secret that the world’s elderly population is soaring, with the number of people aged 65 and over expected to more than double by 2050.
The global population is aging at an unprecedented rate with 8.5 per cent of people worldwide – or more than 600 million – now aged 65 and over,  a report from the US Census Bureau showed.
If the trend continues, then nearly 17 per cent of the global population – 1.6 billion people – will be in the 65-and-over age bracket by 2050.
Many experts agree that we are facing a public health crisis, and we’re just starting the steep climb in numbers.  Frightening?  You bet!  Are we moving fast enough?  Not even near…

I was inspired by our group of new Master Trainers last week who are passionate about training and education for those caring for this vulnerable population.  Bringing new, innovative tools to the hands of direct care staff who are in desperate need, we are aiming to do our part in creating change in attitudes, actions and thinking for a world who needs to better communicate and care for our elderly population.

We applaud those on our team deeply committed to advocacy at the state and national levels,  fighting for pay and benefit increases for those we are entrusting to care for our loved ones, patients and resident; for helping to change policies for the betterment of a healthcare system that is inefficient and wrought with inefficiencies.

AGE-u-cation?  Each and every one of us needs it.  We must train up our young people to understand that caring for elders will and should be a part of their life;  that careers in this field are desperately needed and highly rewarding.

I’ve quoted the wise words of Nelson Mandela before – “It always seems impossible until IT’S DONE”.

We on the AGE-u-cate Tea, want to be a part of GETTING IT DONE!
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3513167/Global-elderly-population-exploding-US-report.html#ixzz4ZEPcuuVs

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