Innovative Therapies and Approaches in Assisted Living
Each year researchers unveil new innovations that improve the lives of people all over the world. The assisted living industry is no different. As caregivers and healthcare providers strive to deliver the finest care, more creative approaches to senior care arise. Increasingly, assisted living communities are implementing alternative therapies in conjunction with traditional care. This article introduces a number of research-based, creative therapeutic approaches that have shown to improve the lives of seniors in residential care.
Snoezelen Multisensory Therapy
Snoezelen Multisensory Therapy is a unique therapy that uses sensory stimulation to help treat cognitive decline, depression, agitation, anxiety, and more. By creating a specific room filled with gentle light, soothing sound, relaxing smells, and comforting touch, seniors can take peaceful moments to heal and develop. Assisted living communities and other residential care facilities can choose from aroma objects, foam ball pits, bubble tubes, unique carpeting, controllers, fiber optics, mirrors, projectors, UV products, and unique seating to create the ideal atmosphere for their residents.
- Snoezelen Therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in treating memory loss and cognitive decline by enhancing well-being, reducing social withdrawal, and improving adaptive behaviors.
- Snoezelen Multisensory Therapy decreases agitation and increases social function in senior residents. Therapy rooms also help enhance the relationship between caregivers and residents.
Art-based therapies have been used in residential care for decades. Some use art to help assess residents while others use art to treat psychological distress. The creation of art requires the use of motor skills and spatial reasoning to communicate ideas and meaning. Creative expression encourages self-exploration and allows for non-verbal communication. Caregivers can not only use artistic approaches to relax residents, they can use art to track changes in memory, personality, and intellectual functioning.
Regardless of any physical or creative abilities, art allows people to take their focus away from daily problems. Creating art allows seniors to express themselves, try new things, and reform memories. Therapists and caregivers provide support and encouragement while seniors create without instruction or judgement. This allows seniors to move past self-doubt into a place where they feel comfortable expressing personal feelings. Common mediums for seniors include the use of paint, clay, watercolor, and pastels. Art therapy has shown to have a number of positive benefits, including:
- Art therapy greatly benefits those with memory loss by challenging and encouraging cognitive abilities. Artistic creation reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and promotes positivity.
- Art therapy allows seniors to redirect their focus from pain, depression, and daily stress. Art therapy has shown to benefit those with cognitive and memory impairments
- Residents with communication issues can also benefit from art therapy. Art creates opportunities for anti-social residents to express themselves and communicate comfortably.
Music has been scientifically proven to enhance brain activity, from the womb until the final moments of life. Music encourages physical activity, decreases stress, and helps trigger memories; it provides enjoyment, relaxation, and comfort while connecting people to their past. Increasingly, residential care communities are recognizing the benefits of using music therapy to improve the lives of their residents.
Music therapy is different than simply playing enjoyable or relaxing music. Therapists or caregivers work to establish a relationship with seniors as they connect with music together. Music therapy employs different types of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, or social needs. Music provides the stimulation necessary to trigger memories as well as physical or emotional expression. Although this approach is relatively fresh, research indicates a number of positive benefits:
- Music therapy is shown to improve mood and socialization with reduced agitation and aggressive behavior in residents with dementia.
- Using music in residential care has shown to reduce muscle tension and enhance overall mood. Residents report a greater sense of well-being and social engagement with more ‘pep in their step’ and overall satisfaction with their homes.
- Caregivers also report having a better mood and job satisfaction when employing music therapy
Dance and movement therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to enhance physical and psychological well-being. Unlike traditional dance, movement therapy focuses on personal expression instead of formal techniques to enhance emotions and reconnect to experiences. Dancing gets seniors moving while creating opportunities for social interactions. Residents can share experiences, remember good times, and enjoy laughter. There are a number of additional benefits to dance-movement therapy, including:
- Dance has shown to help seniors with dementia by enhancing energy levels, promoting positive feelings, and encourages self-esteem. Seniors can safely express emotions and revitalize themselves in a supportive atmosphere.
- Dance-movement therapy has shown to improve the lives of the wheelchair-bound Dance allows them to use their motor abilities, relax reasoning skills, and promote socialization.
- Overall, dance improves physical well-being. Seniors that engage in dance regularly saw improvements in muscle endurance, strength, flexibility, and aerobic power.
About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.