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Creating a Supportive and Healing Environment in Long-term Care

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by Karen Mozzer on 4/15/14 1:45 PM

Long-term care is more than just attending to a patient’s physical ailments for an extended time – modern long-term facilities and home care providers address the mind, body and soul of residents. 

Creating a supportive environment in long-term care

For much of the 20th century, long-term care providers only rendered medical services to people living innursing homes and paid little attention to the psychological needs of the residents living there. Nurses and nurse’s aides in quality care institutions took exceptional physical care of elderly and disabled individuals but often provided only the most cursory mental care.

Psychiatric consultation

The geriatric population faces special risk for the development of certain mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, dementia, and late-life schizophrenia. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation recommends psychiatric consultation with a geriatric psychologist. Psychotherapy helps older adults deal with a variety of concerns as they enter and remain in long-term care, such as:

  • Change in environment
  • Poor sleep
  • Stress
  • Concerns about impending death or death of a loved one
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Family history of dementia
  • Anxiety or agitation associated with dementia

Learning centers

A long-term care facility can create a supportive and healing environment by adding a learning center. Seniors gravitate to the internet as a way to stay connected to their families. Many play games or take online courses as a way to keep their minds sharp.

Physical therapy and exercise

Regular activity and physical therapy helps older adults reduce pain from arthritis and other diseases. Physical therapy promotes independence by keeping long-term residents strong enough to perform the basic activities of daily living without assistance.

However, physical therapy also provides a measure of hope that adds to the feeling of a supportive and healing environment. Residents who receive physical therapy often feel more optimistic about their future and less prone to develop depression.

Organization and personalization of space

Long-term care facilities should be attractive and easy to navigate. Residents with dementia frequently become dismayed and confused. Long-term care providers can reduce anxiety with clear location markings, short hallways and brightly lit spaces.

Personalization of space within reason allows a resident to feel more at home. When you walk through the door of a resident’s space in a supportive and healing long-term care facility, it should feel less like an institution and more like someone’s home.

A supportive and healing environment in a long-term care facility greatly improves not only physical health but geriatric mental health too. Consult with your local long-term care facility to learn how to create more of a nurturing environment in your long-term care facility. 

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