The Senior Watchdog has not always been a big fan of nursing homes. If you've been following these blogs, you've read about the horrific kinds of abuse that can happen in these places.
As it turns out, however, some nursing homes can actually be Great Places! Here's one of them:
For the past dozen years, Beatitudes provides a unique program of "person-centered" care: Dementia residents are allowed pretty much anything that provides comfort--even alcohol. Tena Alonzo, director of research notes, "Whatever your vice is, we're your folks.
And why not? There's no cure for Alzheimer's, and no effective medical treatment for sufferers. Researchers are finding that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer's patients diminishes distress and behavior problems that are frequent side effects of these diseases. Once, Alonzo says, "The state tried to cite us for having chocolate on the nursing chart. They were like, 'It's not a medication.' Yes, it is. It's better than Xanax."
Beatitudes eliminated anything potentially considered restraining, from deep-seated wheelchairs that hinder standing up to bedrails (some beds are lowered and protected by mats). Perhaps most important, the center drastically reduced dosing of residents with antipsychotics and medications considered primarily for "staff convenience," focusing on relieving pain, according to Alonzo.
The National Institute on Aging and the Administration on Aging are studying "Things that . . . make the life of an Alzheimer's patient and his or her caregiver less burdensome," says Sidney Stahl, chief of the Individual Behavioral Processes branch of the Institute on Aging. Techniques include using food, scheduling, art, music and exercise to generate positive emotions; engaging patients in activities that salvage fragments of their skills; and helping caregivers to be more accepting and competent.
And at Beatitudes, the occasional cocktail or Snickers bar!