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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ways Nursing Homes Benefit Their Residents

Choosing to put a loved one into a nursing home can be very difficult. Most often this “choice” is not so much a choice as a necessity. As we get older, we eventually lose the ability to care for ourselves; this is simply a fact of life. However, despite the negative stigma that can accompany nursing homes, this new living environment can greatly benefit residents. Franklin Institute studies found that senior citizens who engaged in regular physical activity, like walking, showed improvements in learning abilities, concentration, and abstract reasoning and memory skills as compared to those who were sedentary; they also cut their risk of stroke by 57%. Furthermore, R. S. Wilson, PhD ran a study that demonstrated that “a cognitively inactive [elderly] person was 2.6 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) than a cognitively active [elderly] person.” Nursing homes provide residents with a community rich in socially, mentally, and physically healthy activities.

Social Activities
Many nursing homes throw celebrations for residents’ birthdays in which family members and fellow residents are invited to participate. Additionally, many homes throw celebrations for holidays. Holidays and birthdays alike can be trying for residents who live far from their loved ones. Community celebration can fill that void, and provide residents with the opportunity to bond with their community. It also provides residents with events to look forward to that are out-of-the-norm.
Social hours and activities like coffee or cocktail hours, and dances are offered to some nursing home residents. This provides residents with a great time and the opportunity to socialize with family, friends, and fellow residents.
Most nursing homes also provide residents with religious services; in fact, every nursing home that is provided for by Medicare and Medicaid is required to offer nursing home residents the chance to attend religious services. Some nursing homes even have religious services provided at the home itself by different religious groups.

Art Related Activities
Various nursing homes provide arts activities for their residents. These activities provide residents with opportunities to exercise their minds and to interact with their fellow residents and local community.
Music is one such activity. Activities range from concerts by local groups and schools to talent shows to sing-alongs. Some nursing homes invite family members and the local community to attend and participate in the aforementioned activities.
Another arts activity available to many nursing home residents is the accessibility to a book service. Numerous nursing homes have libraries that provide residents with books for their entertainment. Audio books and volunteer readers may also be available for those visually impaired. Moreover, book carts are usually available for those who are immobile.
Some nursing homes also have arts and crafts programs. Arts and crafts bring to mind childish activities, like finger painting. However, it is common for seniors’ arts and crafts to consist of creating clay vases, mosaics, scrap-booking, etc. This provides residents with the opportunity to exercise their creative capacities, ultimately providing them with a sense of accomplishment.
Other activities include various discussion groups. Leaders of these groups include both residents, as some may have extensive experience with a particular subject, and volunteers. Topics can be broad, covering everything from politics to art history, and are usually determined by the residents to fit the community’s interests.
Additionally, some nursing homes provide the means for resident published newsletters. This allows residents to exercise their talents and express themselves.

Recreational Activities
Recreational activities allow residents to interact in different group settings (i.e. one-on-one and large group). This not only provides residents with healthy social time, but also allows them to connect with their community in general and, again, exercise their minds.
Games are popular recreational activities. Bingo, chess, and bridge contests and tournaments are common in nursing homes. Volunteer and family members commonly participate in and help organize games for residents.
Trips and outdoor time are common activities in nursing homes. Outdoor activities include gardening, picnics, games, and barbeques with residents, friends, and family members alike. Trips are usually organized by an activities coordinator, and provided for by donations, nursing home funds in general, and/or funds accumulated by selling arts and crafts created by residents. Volunteers are crucial for resident trips as transportation can be a difficult, but the rewards provided to residents are great. Trips allow residents to get away from their normal environment and routine.
Physical fitness activities are common in nursing homes. Everything from yoga to endurance and strength training are offered. Activities for those with special needs or disabilities are also common, allowing them to exercise regularly.
So, it is clear to see that a loved one’s move to a nursing home can be beneficial and enjoyable. Residents spend time exercising their minds and bodies, and get to enjoy the company of others’ their age.

Amy Shoemaker is a guest post and article writer bringing to us her thoughts on the benefits of nursing homes for the elderly.
Additionally, Amy writes about this subject for

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