Vices Indulged – New Opportunities in Care for Alzheimer’s patients
The demand for Alzheimer’s care facilities has risen dramatically during the past decades with two thirds of patients at nursing homes in the USA suffering from dementia, and it is expected to continue to rise as populations age and the amount of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the USA alone is expected to increase 50% by 2030, from 5.2 to 7.7 million, and it is predicted that it may triple by 2050: reaching 16 million.
Recognizing the need for more options when it comes to Alzheimer’s care facilities, the Beatitudes nursing home in Phoenix, Arizona has stepped in to offer non-traditional care. Beatitudes approach is to offer individualized care; indulging the vices of their residents rather than enforcing strict guidelines such as the set meal times and bed times that are common place at nursing homes overcrowded with patients and lacking resources.
The high quality comes with a matching price tag, but the rewards are great both for the residents and the personnel. Residents like Nancy Mendehlson, who had previously been kicked out of nursing homes for aggressive behavior, are calmed by the freedom, which ranges from eating or taking a bath at 2 am and daily chocolate doses to drinking a nightcap and playing with dolls. In addition to indulging vices, the residents are stimulated through activities related to their skills, whether it means arranging flowers, helping with the cooking or assembling a tackling box. The model is in part based on recent research which in lieu of finding a cure has largely focused on reducing distress amongst patients by creating positive emotional experiences. The studies are not necessarily focused on expensive and difficult to implement initiatives, with a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that brightening the lights in nursing facilities decreased depression and cognitive deterioration.
In the coming years it is likely that the market for high end nursing homes will grow, not only because life expectancy is rising but because the purchasing power of this group is also increasing. People are looking to plan ahead for their own future, well aware that their children, if they have any, are likely to have less time to care for them as they age. Planning ahead just got a whole lot sweeter – well unless you prefer really dark and bitter chocolate that is.
The Alzheimer’s Association: www.alz.org