There are many reasons why challenges occur when people are living with chronic health conditions or dementia. Body and brain change create frustrations that often present in behavior expressions that confuse or surprise us. Taking the time to assess what might be underneath a challenging situation can help.
The staff of Orchard at Brookhaven are both knowledgeable and trained with skills to minimize challenging situations and create more supportive environments. The following 7 factors are key considerations to use when working to problem solve an unexpected behavioral expression. Often there is more to the situation than meets the eye.
#1 Think About Who A Person Has Been Throughout Their Life
- What type of personality do they have?
- What are some of their personal preferences?
- What family, friends, or kind of people do they feel most comfortable with?
- Is the person an introvert or an extrovert?
- Do they enjoy large group, small group, or one on one experiences?
- Do they need alone time?
- Do they really benefit from being around others?
- What is their previous social history?
- What is their professional history?
- Are they early risers or do they prefer to stay up late?
- What sort of activity do they like or dislike?
- Do they enjoy music?
- Do they enjoy animals?
- Do they enjoy being outside?
Knowing who the person has been throughout their life is essential in supporting a person and discovering how to best meet their need.
#2 Remember The Body & Brain Are Changing
Part 2 of this blog will explore what could be happening suddenly, unknowingly, to a person’s physiology and causing unexpected change or challenges.
#3 Assessing The Living Space
- Is a person set up for success in their living area?
- Is it functional and safe at the same time?
- Can they move around simply and safely?
- Is there signage and is it easy to understand and follow?
- Is the space adequate for multiple people?
- Are the sound, light, surfaces or sitting areas, calming and supportive?
- Are there unnecessary distractions?
- Does the furniture and décor match the needs and abilities of the people living there?
- Are there corridors or corners where someone may get lost or stuck?
- Does the flow of space allow people to walk and move freely without getting terribly lost or confused?
#4 Review The Daily Routine & Planned Use Of Personal Time
- Is there a flow or routine to a person’s day?
- Are there opportunities for novel and new experiences?
- Does the program offer lifestyle balance and allow a person to spend time in a variety of activities such as:
- Rest and relaxation
- Health and wellness
- Leisure and fun
- Productive and meaningful work/activities
- Are there opportunities seven days a week and outside of 9-5 business hours?
- How many support persons or staff members are participating?
#5 Care Partners & Family
- Is continuing education provided for care partners or families who need to learn more?
- Are there therapeutic support group opportunities for the person, family, or care partners?
- What is the experience or skill level of those helping with a challenging situation?
#6 Healthcare & Wellness
- What is the current status of the health condition?
- Is a person in pain?
- Are there taking new medications?
- Are side effects developing due to long use of a medication or changing conditions?
- Could vision, hearing, mouth or foot care be creating agitation or affecting quality of life?
#7 Type Of Dementia Or Changing Stage Of A Medical Condition’s Progression
- Different conditions present different challenges.
- Could there be something new developing?
- Progression of a current condition can trigger new challenges.
- Remember while diagnosis may be the same, experiences are always unique.
- Solutions for one person may not work for another.
There are a lot of factors that come into play and need to be tuned into when someone is living with a chronic or progressive condition. There are senior living communities and professionals dedicated to problem solving and helping people thrive and have a wonderful quality of life no matter their health challenges or physical condition.
Orchard at Brookhaven is one such community. The executive director of Orchard is an aging and dementia specialist and has coached and trained front line professionals for over 10 years. The community development director serves residents and families as their personal advocate and has established unique affiliate partnerships to assure Orchard will provide ongoing support and education for community care partners, volunteers and families.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a challenging situation due to aging or a chronic condition such as dementia, Orchard can help. Schedule a complimentary consultation or contact the community for more information.