Alternative Housing > Assisted Living > AL 3
As Alzheimer’s becomes more prevalent among the nation’s older adults, senior living communities are creating innovative ways to create nurturing environments that support, inspire and enhance quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.
More than 25 million baby boomers are expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease between now and 2040, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Today, approximately 40% of assisted living residents have some form of dementia. The Assisted Living Federation of America is dedicated to helping find a cure while providing a safe, comfortable environment for residents and families affected by the disease.
The senior living industry implements a number of best practices to help care for and engage with residents with Alzheimer’s, including:
Strategic building design is an essential component to all residents’ quality of life that requires incorporating safety elements with a warm, inviting environment. For residents with Alzheimer’s, an open layout, sensible room adjacencies and natural light and flow to the outdoors. Strategic interior décor is another pivotal element to ensuring a community feels safe and like home to residents with Alzheimer’s. (See ALFA’s Senior Living by Design award winners in the November/December issue of Senior Living Executive.)
Individualized memory boxes
Memory boxes are wonderful tools for both residents with Alzheimer’s and others in the community to feel involved and connected with one another. Simply a box filled with memories, such as photos, artwork, postcards, vacation souvenirs, recipes, sheet music, and letters, these keepsakes can help residents with Alzheimer’s recall memories, personal interests, children, exercise senses, spur creativity, and inspire conservations with caregivers and family members.
A Snoezelen Room creates a therapeutic environment using light, sound, scents, and music to initiate sensual sensations for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. By reliving past experiences that are remembered and comforting, Snoezelen Room participants have an elevated sense of awareness and exhibit stronger communication with caregivers during and after therapy.
The dining experience for Alzheimer’s residents is enhanced through a number of best practices, such as utilizing specially-designed china that helps food stand out and appear more appealing and by offering finger foods that can be easily eaten even when a resident is walking around. Additionally, by transferring residents in wheelchairs to dining chairs at each meal, a change in perspective boosts engagement and awareness.
Activities such as taking a walk on the beach, fishing, golf, and feeding animals at the local animal shelter all create pleasant days and increase engagement for a person with Alzheimer’s. Whether a new activity or modifying a beloved past time, residents with Alzheimer’s who engage in activity have an enhanced quality of life and reduced wandering and agitation behaviors.