This is a guest post submitted by Linda Michelle, an independent health researcher and freelance writer.
Research has shown that the quality of life of nursing home residents can be significantly improved by making the nursing home seem not like an institution but like home–while delivering custodial care and needed medical care on a continual basis. Though the elderly would prefer to be at home, if they need significant help with the activities of daily living and continuous monitoring, the nursing home is a better environment.
Improvement in Physical Comfort and Safety
When designing the nursing home to be more like a resident’s previous home, residents may be given some autonomy on decisions regarding their environment such as access to adjustable temperature control. But making the environment more home-like has more to do with the residents’ feeling like they are in control of their daily lives, including when they get up, when they eat and when they go to bed. Unlike home, however, since health care staff supervises the residents, pain and other discomfort can be dealt with better and timelier than if the resident was back in their private home. Physical assistance can also be given that would be unavailable in a private home.
As the physical environment has to conform to nursing home safety rules, nursing home residents may be in a much safer environment than if they were still in their private home. Grab bars that can prevent falls are likely to be much more available. Pull chains to call for help in the bathrooms and call boxes for requesting a nurse at the bedside provide quick assistance in an emergency that would not be available in a private home. Elderly people that live with eyesight or mobility programs can be assisted with such tasks as moving around, changing of stoma bags and taking their correct medications.
Stimulation that Challenges Rather than Overloads
Inadequate stimulation can result in anxiety and boredom whether in a private home or in a nursing home. A challenging environment where problem solving is required will help the elderly to avoid developing learned helplessness. Though it may seem that a private home would provide more problem solving capabilities, the elderly may have physical and/or cognitive impairments, which may prevent them from problem solving effectively without assistance. In a nursing home, the residents’ capabilities are assessed by competent health care staff that then can assess the residents’ environment for the right amount of stimuli without the resident becoming overwhelmed. Additionally, if the resident does become overwhelmed, there is competent help readily available.
Increased Social Interaction
Particularly when the elderly live alone in a private home, they may be lacking in needed social interaction. A nursing home likely will provide increased social interaction. Not only is the resident interacting with health care staff but also with other residents. Nursing homes have frequent activities that provide opportunities for needed social interaction. Additionally, some nursing homes have visiting pet programs, which enable the residents to have meaningful interaction with animals that can contribute to an increased quality of life.
Though the elderly would likely prefer to remain in their own home, nursing homes can have a home-like environment that provides additional benefits to the elderly that they cannot get in a private home. Nursing supervision, timely medical intervention, increased safety measures and in many cases, more social interaction, are all ways to improve the quality of life of the elderly.
Linda Michelle is an independent health researcher and freelance writer. Her particular field of research is dedicated to improving the lives of elderly people. For more information about making the life of elderly people easier, visit SecuriCare Medical, who provides a home delivery service for elderly people living with stoma bags.