Supporting the Residents’ Emotional Well-Being in Assisted Living Care

Many residents are admitted to assisted living because they can no longer live independently and may even need professional care for long-term or chronic conditions and illnesses. There are also those who may be admitted temporarily for professional rehabilitory care after a major surgery, such as knee or hip replacement.

Part of quality assisted living care is establishing an individualized healthcare plan that treats and promotes positive progress for the residents’ medical conditions or diagnoses. These plans attempt to hit all aspects of care, including physical, cognitive, and occupational skills.

In addition to these basic components, it is equally important to consider the emotional foundation as well.

Ideas for Activities That Promote Emotional Wellness:

New Opportunities

With each new admission, we can take this as an opportunity to help the residents create a new lifestyle or routine that they might enjoy.

The staff at an assisted living facility often become like family to residents, especially for those who have few or even no visitors. Consequently, it is up to those staff members and its administration to encourage a nurturing, community environment for the overall welfare of the residents.

Another important way to help residents is to encourage them to participate in activities to fill their day. Many assisted living facilities do take an “interest inventory” of each new resident to match them with different, desired activities.

The following is a list of activities that prove to be most satisfying and most accessible for elderly residents.

Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy is a favorite among residents and staff alike. A visit from a trained dog, cat, or even guinea pig can bring a smile to anyone’s face. Residents who feel lonely or may have difficulty verbalizing or communicating can find affection and love in a furry friend. The reduced expectation to engage verbally can lower anxiety levels in these kinds of social situations.

If the resident is ambulatory, having them walk a dog (with supervision) can also provide a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Music & Dance

Music is another excellent way to promote social interaction. It’s a way for people to come together and enjoy each other’s company without the pressure of having to verbalize or completely engage in direct interactions.

Especially with residents who were musicians or dancers by trade or hobby, music is so ingrained that they are often able to recall the lyrics, the moves, or how to play their favorite instrument.

Everyone can enjoy music – whether you have ambulatory residents able to get up and dance, or even non-ambulatory residents who can just be there and listen or watch the others – it truly is a simple but meaningful social experience.

Art Therapy

Like music, art has a way of enhancing physical and cognitive connections and improving the emotional state of an individual. Even for residents experiencing memory loss, art has proven to strengthen or help sustain cognitive and memory function by necessitating the dexterity to manipulate whatever medium is used.

Residents with advanced memory loss still enjoy participating in art, and may even find it as a way to express themselves when other faculties are deteriorating. Some research has suggested that individuals participating in creative outlets are sometimes able to use it as a way to communicate and connect with their world, thus encouraging a sense of belonging and purpose. Art can be an intrinsically rewarding and confidence-boosting activity.

In the right environment, art therapy can be a relaxing social activity with cognitive and emotional benefits.

Workshops, Classes, & Other Activities

Engaging workshops or classes can also be an enjoyable part of the day or week. As mentioned before, art, music, and dance activities are always popular. Depending on the cognitive abilities and interests of the residents, setting up workshops or classes to learn or enjoy focused time on an activity.

Workshops on technology, such as using an iPad or notebook, a laptop, or smartphone are useful for the residents’ own entertainment or keeping connected with family and friends. Gardening brings much joy, nurturing a plant from seed to bloom. This can be an especially fun and rewarding way to access nature in an assisted living environment. Visits from local youth groups, schools, or other community organizations can bring a positive energy, socialization time, and a sense of companionship for elderly residents.

There are many options to engage residents in a meaningful and productive way. As always, be sure there is team and supervisor approval before introducing a resident to a new activity.


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