Some people are hesitant to move their senior parents into a nursing home, afraid that the facility will make them uncomfortable and even lonelier. But a study found that seniors in nursing homes are actually happier and more satisfied with their lives. However, that’s because they’ve been empowered to influence their surroundings.
Hence, if you didn’t carefully choose a nursing home for your parent, there’s a chance that they’d end up in a worse place. But choose the right one, which thoroughly ensures their safety, comfort, and health, then your parent will definitely have a better quality of life.
But there’s more to a better quality of life than a nice home. Sure, air-conditioning and a cable TV will keep the elderly amused, but without enough activities, they’d still end up bored and perhaps, indeed lonelier.
Still, nursing homes aren’t a bad decision. After all, they’re really designed for elders who might be unsafe and unhealthy in their own homes. But they can still improve, and give their residents shining golden years. Below are ways they can do just that:
Reduce the Need for Excessive Energy Consumption
According to research, elderly people aged 70 and above consume the most energy out of all adults. Those who live in warmer regions are particularly racking up their energy costs, for reasons the research couldn’t provide. ButHossein Estiri, a computational demographer at Harvard Medical School, speculated that seniors need more air-conditioning, or that they may be having some home maintenance problems, which could be related to their older and thus less-efficient appliances.
If the trend of seniors using up more energy continues, climate change will prevail. And as the aging population increases, then those two trends will amplify each other, according to Dr. Estiri.
Another possible reason for the elderly’s excessive A/C use is their general health, according toPatrick Kinney,who studies the effects of climate on health at the Boston University School of Public Health. Because seniors are old and frail, extreme heat causes more stress on their bodies. Moreover, the medications they’re taking, particularly the ones for blood pressure and cholesterol, may be affecting their thermo-regulation abilities.
But ridding them of an air-conditioner can’t be an option, because heatstroke, which can be fatal to anyone, is more dangerous in a senior adult. Their decreased mobility affects their ability to move to a cooler place during a heatwave.
So instead, a nursing home should employ a few tricks to cool their spaces without fully relying on an air-conditioner. Below are some of those helpful tricks:
- Install cooling curtains (by spraying a sheet with cold water, then using it to cool the window’s opening)
- Install a ceiling fan and make it rotate counterclockwise
- Insulate the attic and walls
- Use a dehumidifier
- Install insulated window films
- Buy a chill pillow (or the relatives of the senior adult can)
Over 6.5 million adults aged 65 and upare suffering from depression. It could be caused by stressful life events, such as retirement or the death of a spouse. Certain health conditions and medications may also have something to do with it.
Nursing home staff should recognize the signs of depression and enlist a mental health professional to help. While at it, they can also improve their facility’s environment to help lift a depressed senior’s mood.
According to a study, environmental factors potentially impacta senior’s quality of life. Such are housing (comfort, size, overall satisfaction with living spaces), facilities, residents (interaction with fellow nursing home residents), nuisance (social insecurity, crime, etc), and neighborhood (noise, traffic.)
That said, remodeling or redecorating may do wonders for a senior’s well-being. New nursing home furniture, which should be more comfortable and appealing, will give seniors something new to see, and give them a sense of being in a new, more beautiful space. Though it may not cure their depression, it will still contribute to a greater sense of well-being.
Increase Seniors’ Sense of Purpose
Depression can also inflict seniors who feel like they’ve lost their purpose. Hence, nursing homes should allow them to engage in activities that’ll make them feel useful. Just because their mobility and health have decreased doesn’t mean that they can no longer perform chores and everyday tasks.
Some are simple yet invigorating activities for seniors:
- Folding the laundry
- Organizing drawers
- Collecting the mail
- Writing the grocery list or chore schedule
- Clipping coupons
- Updating fellow residents about the latest news
- Preparing meals
- Help staff run errands
These activities will also help seniors stay more active. After all, not all of them can exercise anymore, or even stand up. As such, keeping their hands and minds busy will reduce the emotional impacts of their deteriorating health.
When all nursing homes continually assess and improve their surroundings, no senior will ever feel abandoned, bored, lonely, and depressed in their facilities. Some of these things may seem meaningless, but to the elderly, it could make a world of difference.