As an owner of an assisted living facility, you and your staff need to provide the right type of care and environment for residents with various types of health and mental disabilities. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. This increases the chance of you having one or more residents with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Here are some important qualities your assisted living facility needs to properly care for your residents with Alzheimer's or dementia.
Provide a Comfortable Environment
The environment inside your assisted living facility needs to be easy for Alzheimer's and dementia residents to find their way around, when necessary. This includes having recognizable areas inside the building, including a dining area, community room, and restrooms. It is also helpful to have signs throughout the facility to point a resident in the direction of any of these public areas. Signs may include writing and also pictures for Alzheimer's and dementia patients who are no longer able to read.
Then, you want to make the entire facility as home-like as you can, so all your residents, including those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia can feel comfortable. This can include decorating a resident's room with their own photos and other furnishings. It is also important to give each resident their own private room and bathroom when possible.
It is also important to decorate the common areas of the living facility to promote the feeling of home. Avoid intercom systems and bright, glaring lights, but include cozy lighting, relaxing music, and access to refreshments and snacks between meals. Over-stimulation from bright lights and loud noises can cause agitation, stress, and confusion to Alzheimer's and dementia residents.
Provide Social Opportunities
Planning and providing social activities for your residents with Alzheimer's and dementia is important as it improves their quality of life. Social activities provide opportunities for your residents to stay physically active and maintain their physical abilities, such as using their hands to create or interacting and talking with other residents. Social stimulus can also helps Alzheimer's and dementia patients maintain their mental health, prevent depression, and build their self-esteem as they participate in any activities.
Plan activities that your staff can participate in to do activities with the residents, rather than do the activities for them. These types of activities and interactions can help build the relationships between your staff and your residents. Keep in mind you should respect your resident's preference and not force their participation if they want to stay in their room during the activity.
Provide Properly Trained Staff
It is important to make sure your assisted living staff have and receive the right training and certification. This is to help your staff do their job well to care for the residents. For example, because Alzheimer's and dementia patients may not be able to communicate their feelings, needs, or discomfort very well, they may use other ways to communicate to your staff. This can include acting out emotionally or physically. It is important any staff members caring for these patients knows how to recognize and understand these signs so they can take care of each patient's needs.
Providing the right training to your staff is to also ensure you are in compliance with your local state's Assisted Living Facility (ALF) training regulations. For example, the Washington State Department of Health Services requires all new ALF staff to complete as part of their training, a first aid and CPR class, two hours of orientation, three hours of safety training, HIV/AIDS training, and 70 hours of basic ALF training. If a member of your staff will be caring for one or more residents with Alzheimer's and dementia, they can be required to take a special training class. Check with your local area to make sure you meet all the required staff training.
Make sure your assisted living facility is best suited to treat all residents, including those with Alzheimer's and dementia.