Tidbit of the Week

  • TOTW September 21: Thank you!

    Many people turn away from what scares them…old age…dementia…mortality.

    But you turn towards it. You lift and hold and hug your residents. You treasure their pasts, help them enjoy their present and not be terrified of their futures.  You nurture, reminisce and provide encouragement and tough love to keep them moving…feeling…living.

    Sometimes you see your future self in their eyes and it scares you too. But you stay. You care for them as you hope to be cared for yourself one day. You embrace their gifts, savor their stories, and celebrate their individuality. You learn patience and perseverance. You practice compassion and humility. You are a role model for colleagues.

    People call you angels, but do not truly understand the extent of all you do. There is no way that they could and you don’t expect them to.

    And amidst all this, you still take the time to meet with us, share us your stories, and send us your ideas. We are touched by your efforts as you continue to strive to learn more…anything that can help your residents live better lives and your staff be better caregivers.

    We applaud you and we thank you. We are still here for you if you need us for advice or suggestions, and always welcome your stories. Please keep in touch. Have a great Active Aging Week too. Those of you who submitted plans for this week (they were all wonderful) can expect a gift card in the mail soon!


  • TOTW August 31: FFC: A Philosophy, Not a Fad

    We’ve all seen ads for the latest “fad diets” and have either tried one or know someone who has. We also know that these diets rarely work long-term, in part because they do not involve a change in lifestyle habits, but rather a short term fix for a long term problem. How does this relate to function focused care? Rather than viewing it as a program with a beginning and an end (like a diet would end once goals are reached), function focused care is a philosophy of care that involves changes in how we think about activity with our residents as well as the habits of caregivers, administrators and residents.

    Just as people who lose weight are most successful when they adopt permanent lifestyle changes, function focused care can start today with small changes that eventually become habits, and then simply a standard way of living. As we approach the end of our official FFC program, we encourage you to reflect upon the changes your facility has made over the year to integrate the philosophy of function focused care with your staff, residents and their family members. Think about how you will continue the great work you’ve started over these past months. What changes have become habits already? What could use more attention? As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions, and remind you that there are many resources available on our website (www.functionfocusedcare.org) to help you.


  • TOTW August 24: Stroll to the Salon and Spa

    We loved this story and wanted to share it with you. Please click on this following link to see: http://mashable.com/2014/08/20/robbie-kaye-photography/

    So how can this relate to function focused care? If you have a salon at your facility, encourage your residents to walk there. There are so many motivating factors…they can socialize with friends at the salon, catch up with their hairdresser (we ladies know that can be a close bond!), and end up looking beautiful too!

    If you don’t have a salon at your site, how about hosting a regular  “spa day” for your residents? Hold it in a room that isn’t often used and encourage residents to walk or self-propel there. A volunteer or staff member can do hair and nails, and even make up. You can even encourage residents to do some exercises while they wait for their turn!

  • TOTW August 17: Sing a Song and Take a Stroll for Healthier Aging

    Sing a song and take a stroll…both can lead to healthier and happier aging! A recent study has once again confirmed what most of us already know…that sedentary older adults can improve their function by walking. Have you started a walking club yet?? Early fall is a great time to get outside! http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/4/611.abstract

    Another interesting study found that singing songs can benefit people with dementia AND their caregivers by leading to improved feelings of wellbeing in caregivers and improved short-term and working memory in those with dementia. (http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/4/634.abstract) Not only does this study encourage us to sing some tunes with our residents, it reminds us that the wellbeing of our caregivers is very important too. Consider buying some musical instruments for residents to play while singing, since this can help increase range of motion and heart rate through movement. For those of you who still have a Nasco gift card to spend, check out enasco.com and search for instruments.

    We’ve gotten a bunch more entries for our “Active Aging ” contest, so keep them coming! We’ll give you a few more weeks to send us your plans for the special week (which is the week of September 21st). For those of you participating, please send us photos of your residents taking part in your activities that week! We’d love to see them. Attached is a consent form for you to print and make copies of for anyone in your photos to sign, then scan and email back to us. This way we can share them with colleagues and even post on our website!

    Still looking for Active Aging Week ideas? Check this out:


  • TOTW August 10: Plant a Garden!

    Believe it or not, summer is starting to wind down, but it’s not too late for your residents to start a table garden! A review of research has shown that gardening can improve the lives of people with dementia by helping to decrease agitation and increase feelings of calmness and relaxation. http://www.jamda.com/article/S1525-8610(14)00339-9/abstract?cc=y?cc=y

    Rebecca Whear, MSc, a Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School says, “There is an increasing interest in improving dementia symptoms without the use of drugs. We think that gardens could be benefitting dementia sufferers by providing them with sensory stimulation and an environment that triggers memories. They not only present an opportunity to relax in a calming setting, but also to remember skills and habits that have brought enjoyment in the past.”

    So consider planting some potted herbs or flowers with residents outside this month while the weather is mild. Check out these garden tables: http://www.enasco.com/action/solr/select?q=garden and at http://tablegarden.net/  Someone who is handy (a friend or family member of one of your residents?!) could probably build one for you pretty easily too!

    Finally, here’s an opportunity to learn more about activities you can do for Active Aging Week in September! A free webinar will take place on Wednesday, August 20th. Click on the following link to register: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=nhpqkwpsd0b7

    Remember that we are having one last contest…please send in a paragraph about what your facility plans to do for Active Aging Week next month, or send us pictures of residents being ACTIVE! We have a few eNasco gift cards left to award the winners!!

  • TOTW August 3: The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes

    Indeed, the body does achieve what the mind believes. What do your residents believe they can do? Does your well-meaning staff tell residents to “Stay put and let me do that for you” or “Sit down before you fall!” or “Don’t walk by yourself…you might fall down!” Such statements, though well-intentioned, can condition residents to think they aren’t capable of doing things for themselves, or worse yet, make them fearful of even trying.

    Instead, consider using motivating phrases like, “ You can do it, I know you can!” or “You are looking stronger today, let’s give it a try.” Understandably, you may not want a resident walking alone if they are a high fall risk. But rather than telling them to sit so they don’t fall, how about “I’m glad you want to walk, Mr. Jones. I’d like to walk with you. Please wait for me and we can walk together.”

    This week, pay special attention to how you and staff speak to residents when it comes to performing activities of daily living and walking. Choosing encouraging phrases can make a big difference in their mindset—and in yours too!

  • TOTW July 27: Function Over Fashion

    We’ve talked a lot about the role of the environment in encouraging physical and functional activity of residents at your facilities. Some of the most common things lacking in facilities are cues in the environment to promote activity. This can be a challenge for some, especially when facilities have gyms or activity rooms where things like weights, foam noodles, elastic bands, stationary bikes, and other exercise equipment are housed. While it’s wonderful to have these areas devoted to activity, if a resident doesn’t venture to these specific rooms in a facility, then they miss out. In some cases, exercise items are stored in a locked closet that only gets opened when the activities person comes to visit. The rest of the time, they remain unused.

    You work with older adults, so you know that while there is a place for routine and consistency, sometimes the most fun moments, or the moments when you succeed in motivating a resident to do something that he/she doesn’t usually want to do, are unexpected and spontaneous. Physical activity can be spontaneous too…but you can help it along! Perhaps if you leave some foam noodles in your common area near the television set, or put small weights, foam balls or elastic exercise bands in the dining room (we know you have people who arrive very early for meals!), this may spark residents or staff to do some spontaneous exercise!

    While these items may not necessarily fit the lovely décor that you have envisioned for your facility, we must prioritize….think “Function over Fashion!” Isn’t it more important to keep your residents moving and as independent as possible than it is to have your rooms look picture perfect? Of course it is! We were thrilled to see one of our participating facilities with a stationary bike in the hallway, right next to the lovely chairs in a sitting area. We call it “Functionally Fashionable” and we love it!

  • TOTW July 20: The Great Outdoors

    Now that the weather is a bit cooler and a lot drier, how about using this week as an opportunity to go outside for walk with your residents.  Even those who may walk slowly and cautiously or those who simply self-propel can benefit from some fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery.  Let these pictures and words guide you in the coming week and have fun with the residents.  Please know....it means everything to them.

     Have a great week!

  • TOTW July 13: It's Never Too Late to Reinvigorate!

    We know many of you have made some great progress over the past year in adopting the Function Focused Care philosophy to your assisted living facility. We want to encourage you to keep up the good work as you move forward.  Some of you may need another “push” to get it moving. Perhaps you attended our training program last August, but by now the excitement has worn off a bit and, like New Year’s resolutions that start out with great intentions, your great ideas and goals have fallen by the wayside.

    Well, it’s never too late to reinvigorate! (Hey, that rhymes). If you are the FFC champion at your facility, grab a friend on your staff to team up with. It’s easier to get things moving with more people on board. Maybe it’s time to identify a few new “FFC Champions” on your staff to bring new energy and ideas to the effort. Revisit your goals and the goals you’ve set for residents. Are they outdated? Unrealistic? Have some of the motivating factors for residents changed? For example, perhaps a resident used to come to an exercise class because her friend was there too, but now she no longer comes because that friend has moved to a new facility. You may need to work with staff to develop new motivating ideas for residents.

    Share your successes—no matter how small--with staff and family members to help encourage everyone to stick with function focused care. Maybe a little competition between sister sites at different locations could get things rolling!

     And finally…didn’t we tell you? Dance, dance, dance with those residents!  A recent study has found that older adults who took part in a 12 week program that involved dancing for 45 minutes 2 days per week showed decreased knee-hip pain and an increased ability to walk compared to the control group who did not dance. Check out the full story here:

    Dance Those Cares Away!

    Have a great week!

  • TOTW July 6: A Risk Worth Taking

    This week we’d like you to spend some time reflecting on “risk taking” at your facility…but in a way that perhaps you won’t expect.

    People often associate the term “risk” with something negative, as in risky behavior that can result in serious harm. But we’d like you to think about taking risks where the probable benefits far outweigh the possible harms. For example, some might think that the risk of falling isn’t worth allowing residents to walk outdoors or even to the dining room.  In fact, not allowing residents to walk only increases their risk of falling and sedentary behavior causes a decrease in function and an increase in other ailments such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections. 

    SO...Is it worth the risk to encourage ambulatory residents to walk and dance and move even though someone might fall? We hope you are nodding “yes” as you read this.

    What does your facility do if someone falls outside on the patio? Do you discourage others from going outside for fear of it happening again? Perhaps you may even lock the doors and forbid anyone from enjoying the patio? Think about your facility’s policies about this. Does your facility weigh the many benefits that result from activity versus the risk of injury?

    Consider your residents who have dementia. Some like to wander around for hours, sometimes causing “mischief” or making others uncomfortable. Think about creative ways to minimize some of the risks of this behavior while allowing the resident this activity. We’ve learned from experience that staff who let these residents meander as they wish—“burn out the candle” so to speak—usually settle down eventually. And everyone benefits from this!

    We encourage YOU to send us your experiences and thoughts about this. One risky thing we don’t recommend however, is letting residents light leftover fireworks in the facility! We hope you had a fun, safe Fourth of July.