“Home is where the heart is.” This is especially true for our residents. Many of us will consider “home” as our security and where we feel comfortable and warm. This is a safe place for us to come to at the end of the day and escape daily life activities. Every home looks different, every home has the same meaning, a comfort place. As National Assisted Living Week comes to a close, it is our job to ensure we are making our residents feel at home and at peace. This year’s theme is Joyful Moments, meaning to create events that bring joy to the residents, families, and staff.
National Assisted Living Week may be done, but we the work of bringing joy into the lives of the residents never stops. If you have cared for a person who has Dementia, you may hear them say “I want to go home”. In your mind, you are thinking back to their nursing care facility. In their mind, they are thinking what they once called home before transitioning to the nursing home/assisted living. On the other hand, if the resident has Alzheimer’s disease, the home they miss is a childhood home. This is the home that he or she felt the love and comfort of their mother and the protection of their father.
As care givers and providers, it is our job to create that loving and safe environment that our residences miss dearly. It is not necessarily the building structure that they miss, it is the state of mind. They want to feel what they once felt with their mother, father, siblings, grandparents, etc. All they need is to have their care giver provide them with that love and comfort that they once had.
The best way our facilities can help accomplish these emotions, especially with dementia residents is to provide loving, hands-on care, and flexibility as often as possible. This helps them feel less anxious and more cared for and in the end, making them feel like they are home. Proving something as simple as companionship can help lower the dementia patient’s anxiety and feel at peace.
Another tip for caregivers in assisted living or nursing homes is to take your resident by the hand, sit down with them, and have them talk to you about their home. Give them time to think about their home. They may want to talk about the home they lived in before coming to your facility or a home they lived in as a child. They may talk about something completely off topic, but having you present, and listening is all that matters to them.
Also, during National Assisted Living Week, our nurses and staff showed their care to residents by throwing festivals to engage with everyone and creating those sought out joyful moments that reduce anxiety and make everyone feel welcome. Not only does this help the residents, but it also clams the families. They know their loved ones are cared for while they are away. This brings joy to everyone involved.
Overall, the biggest and most important takeaway from this is to be patient, loving, and present. Every day is confusing for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. As caregivers, we need to understand that every day is not a walk in the park. We have challenges throughout the day, but we have to learn how to adapt and how to make our residents and their families feel comfortable in our care. At the end of the day, we can find peace knowing we did everything we could to help each resident, no matter their diagnosis.