Better Nursing HomesAugust 28, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Improving the quality of care that seniors receive in nursing homes is a passion of mine. In my experience, I’ve found that the most practical way of accomplishing this goal is by forming a strategic partnership between the nursing home staff, residents (and their families) and treating physicians. Evidence-based solutions form the common link between each of the three integral parts of the aforementioned team.
There is absolutely no question in my mind that a holistic approach to senior care is the way of the future. As proof, here are several techniques from recent studies that can and should be implemented in nursing homes worldwide. For starters, short bouts of foot massage (10 minutes/daily) is a safe and simple approach that improves various indices of wellbeing in nursing home residents. Reductions in dementia related agitation, pain and stress hormones have been evidenced after the periodic application of reflexology, a form of foot massage involving the manipulation of acupressure points. The addition of scheduled leisure activities such as listening to enjoyable music and/or playing Mah-Jongg, a Chinese game of skill that is similar to Gin Rummy, are clinically documented as improving mood in seniors with depressive symptoms. And, last but not least, sleep quality in elderly residents can be significantly bolstered by offering access to thrice-weekly Tai Chi exercise classes.
Inadequate nutrition remains a major concern in nursing homes throughout the world. Even the most expensive senior care establishments often underestimate the value of optimal nutrient intake. The August 2012 edition of the journal Maturitas provides a topical example by revealing that many elderly patients possess insufficient levels of Vitamin D. When adequate Vitamin D status is established, via intramuscular injections or supplementation, improvements in muscle strength and physical performance were noted. Vitamin B12 is another nutrient which is frequently lacking in older men and women. What’s more, undetected B12 deficiency can mimic common symptoms associated with old age such as depression, lightheadedness and memory loss. Fortunately, providing seniors with high-potency multivitamins containing Vitamins B12 and D typically addresses overt deficiencies. For this reason, I recommend the use of specially tailored multivitamin/mineral supplements for those residing in assisted living or nursing home environments. In addition, I’m happy to assist any senior health care providers with guidance about formulating or selecting dietary supplements for their unique clientele.
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Reflexology Versus Swedish Massage to Reduce Physiologic Stress … (link)
Study 2 – Exploring the Effect of Foot Massage on Agitated Behaviors in Older … (link)
Study 3 – Leisure Activities Alleviate Depressive Symptoms in Nursing Home … (link)
Study 4 – Effects of Music on Depression in Older People: A Randomised … (link)
Study 5 – The Effect of Tai Chi Exercise on the Sleep Quality of the Elderly … (link)
Study 6 – Efficacy and Safety of High Dose Intramuscular or Oral Cholecalciferol … (link)
Study 7 – Vitamin B12 deficiency in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities … (link)
Multivitamins May Slow Biological Aging By Preserving Telomere Length
Source: Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1857-63. (link)
Tags: aging, Massage, Vitamin D
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements