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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Nursing Homes / Some Nursing Homes Use Unconventional Methods to Put Dementia Residents at Ease

Some Nursing Homes Use Unconventional Methods to Put Dementia Residents at Ease

For people who suffer from dementia, moving into a nursing home is a difficult but often necessary step to take. However, those with dementia often have problems becoming used to their new environment, causing behavioral and emotional issues that can lead to dismissal from the nursing home altogether.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, Beatitudes Nursing Home in Phoenix, Arizona is adopting nontraditional methods to help dementia patients adapt to their surroundings. For example, instead of conducting group activities like bingo in which few of the residents could participate, staff members interact with the residents one-on-one, allowing them to color, work with building blocks, or even just talk. One resident who enjoyed fishing can set up a plastic tackle box whenever he wants. Another woman has a doll that she has named Benjamin, which she pretends to feed and carries around with her everywhere. While it may seem silly or unusual, allowing residents to engage in these activities has actually helped some to become much calmer, with fewer incidents of combative behavior.

Additionally, Beatitudes allows patients to eat whatever foods they want, no matter how unhealthy, at all hours of the night and day. Realizing that doctor-approved healthy foods often cause residents to stop eating, Beatitudes reasons that “comforting foods” like chocolate, bacon and even alcohol can make patients feel more at home. While state health inspectors have raised concerns about residents’ unconventional diets, Beatitudes continues to rely on research showing that creating comforting emotional experiences for residents actually helps to eliminate behavioral problems.

Perhaps most interestingly, nursing homes like Beatitudes have created an environment that prevents residents from escaping through open doors or elevators while eliminating conventional methods of restraint. For example, several nursing homes in Germany have installed fake “bus stops.” When residents wish to leave the nursing home, they simply stand at the bus stop until they either forget where they wanted to go or agree to come back inside. Beatitudes also installed a rectangle of black carpet in front of the elevators to prevent residents from entering them. Relying on research showing that dementia patients often have visual-spatial issues, Beatitudes has found that patients often perceive the black carpet as being a hole or cliff, making them reluctant to walk on the black carpet in order to get into the elevators.

While some state inspectors and other experts have questioned the unconventional methods at Beatitudes, families of its residents and the nursing home staff believe that their unique approach can lead to a more comfortable and less confusing life for those suffering from dementia.

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