Tidbit of the Week

  • Weekly Tidbit of the Week for November 18: Turkey Trot Time!

    Thanksgiving Day is almost here! Before we enjoy our fabulous feasts, it’s fun to work up those appetites with some morning exercise on turkey day! How about hosting a “Turkey Trot” at your community?

    Turkey trots have become very popular as a way to have fun with family and friends, and often raise money for local charities. Yours could just be for fun and exercise (and maybe include some prizes!), or ask loved ones to sponsor residents who “trot” and donate the money to a special cause. Either way, you’ll be getting residents (and staff!) moving! Of course, if the weather is too cold to go outside, an inside turkey trot will do the trick. Residents in wheelchairs can self-propel too.

    So, have residents help make a few posters early this week, find some fun music to play, grab some energetic staff to lead the fun, and do the turkey trot!

  • Weekly Tidbit for October 21, 2018: Brush, brush, brush those teeth!

    Oral health plays a key role in the comfort and wellbeing of your residents, but it often gets lower priority when we are busy and time is short. Encouraging residents to care for their teeth and gums and knowing how to assist them when necessary will help your residents maintain healthy teeth and gums, and help ensure that they are eating well too (after all, who wants to eat with a sore mouth!).

    You can watch a brief video we made that illustrates some of our oral health tips at: http://www.functionfocusedcare.org/oral-care

    In addition, the link below will take you to a variety of tip sheets from the National Institutes of Health that have great advice and ideas for promoting oral health, including ways to make toothbrush handles bigger and easier to hold, how to help someone floss, and what you should know about dry mouth and ways to prevent or treat it:

    Oral Health Tips from NIH

    Have a great week!

  • Weekly Tidbit for October 14, 2018: Get Outside for a Fall Scavenger Hunt!

    After a long summer of rain, heat and humidity, the beautiful days of autumn are finally here. Don’t miss this opportunity to help get your residents outside—especially before the cold and snowy weather arrives. It will be here before we know it!

    How about hosting an outdoor fall scavenger hunt? We found this one online (see below), but you can make your own one too. You can even offer little prizes for everyone who finds everything on the list!

  • Weekly Tidbit for September 30, 2018: All Hands on Deck

    To help make Function Focused Care a daily habit for staff and residents, we need all hands on deck!  Your identified champions are your leaders and role models.  These individuals play a vital role in implementing the strategies we want all staff to use when working with residents to help maintain and even improve function and physical activity levels. 

    Champions (along with other stakeholders such as administrators, nurses and social workers) not only act as role models, but also cheerleaders, teachers and observers. Encourage your champions to take a few minutes and watch the ways in which their co-workers interact with residents to make sure they are following the resident’s care plan and using person centered approaches during care interactions (e.g., having the individual participate in his or her bathing and dressing; walking the individuals to the bathroom regularly to avoid agitation; or singing the resident’s favorite song during an unpleasant care interaction).  Acknowledge, praise and reward staff when they use Function Focused Care.  Examples of such acknowledgments include: 

    * A simple “Great job, keep up the good work!”

    *A write up in a newsletter recognizing their exemplary work

    *A Starbucks gift certificate (or an alternative treat!)

    Conversely, when champions witness missteps by staff during resident interactions, they should turn these into opportunities to teach their colleagues a better way to handle those situations.  Role modeling a better way is one of the best ways to make new learning happen.  For example, when a caregiver tells a resident who is repeatedly getting up and down in an unsafe fashion to sit down they might fall  …. And the resident persists and gets more agitated….it may be helpful to step in and show that taking the resident for a walk or having him or her stand and sing and dance for a minute or two may decrease the agitation.    

    Staying positive, encouraging and persistent is key to changing the habits of staff and building a strong team of caregivers who help one another.

  • Weekly Tidbit for September 23, 2018: Dance Your Way to Joy & Bring Others With You

    We’ve got a few fun video clips to inspire you this week. The first is of on older woman stealing the show as she danced to a rap song with a Cincinnati Bengals football player when he and other team members visited her nursing home:


    If you have trouble getting your residents dancing, then you and staff need to get the party started yourselves! Take a look at what this physician’s assistant does to help sick kids feel better:


    Here’s an idea: Have a “dance-off” with staff and let the residents judge the best dancers! Eventually, they will get into the spirit and start dancing too! It would be a great activity for next week’s Active Aging Week, or give it a try during halftime of the next big football game! Be sure to send us pictures and we’ll send you a prize!

  • Weekly Tidbit for September 16, 2108: Active Aging Week Will Be Here Soon!

    We encourage you to celebrate Active Aging Week, held from September 23rd through the 29th and sponsored by the International Council on Active Aging. The event will have “theme days” that focus on different aspects of healthy aging. This year they include:

    • The WALK! With Aegis Therapies
    • Wellness with Water (Aquatic Yoga or Dance for those communities with pools!)
    • Nutrition for Strength and Energy
    • The Silent Challenge (managing incontinence)

    Go to the Active Aging Week website for more information on the theme days: https://www.activeagingweek.com/

    And this link is a MUST visit!!! It has tons of great activity ideas for your community that other communities have done for Active Aging Week in years past…from small to large, simple to more elaborate. You’ll be sure to find a few fun events and activities that you can do with you residents! https://www.activeagingweek.com/resources-organization/planningguides/funideas.pdf


  • Weekly Tidbit for September 9, 2018: If at first you don't succeed...

    If at first you don’t succeed…well, you know the rest: Try, try again!

    How often do we ask residents to join us for exercise class or another activity, have them say “no”, and we say “ok” and move on to the next person. Then after a few no thank-you’s from them, we give up asking altogether. The thing is, with older adults—especially those with cognitive decline—we need to keep asking.

    Why do residents refuse to participate in activities? Some reasons to consider:

    • They are in pain
    • They are depressed
    • They are intimidated by large groups or new people
    • They are afraid they won’t be able to keep up with the activity
    • They don’t understand what you are asking them to do
    • They are afraid of falling
    • They have poor hearing or eyesight
    • They are incontinent and don’t want to go too far from the bathroom

    And the list goes on.

    Consider these possible reasons and how you can address them. Also, remember that residents often mirror your attitude, so if you appear enthusiastic about having them join you, they will likely feel that enthusiasm too. If you ask them in a way that seems like you don’t care whether they come or not, then that’s how they may feel. They may feel that they’re not worth the trouble.

    In any event, whether a person has said no to you 5 times or 500 times, don’t give up! The 501st time may be the one where they decide to come—if only to stop your nagging. And that 501st time can change their life. We’ve seen it happen.

  • Weekly Tidbit for September 2, 2018: Give Tai Chi a Try!

    Last week was boxing, this week…Tai Chi! This ancient Chinese martial art has become increasingly popular as the benefits of this exercise are undeniable. Tai Chi is perfect for many older adults because it is a gentle exercise that involves slow movements, making it easier to follow.

    DailyCaring.com found three simple (for beginners) seated Tai Chi routines to help your residents improve flexibility and overall well-being. They are great for people who are unable to stand independently and/or have limited mobility. Click on the link below to see the videos:


    These are just a few of the many videos available online. Find your favorite and familiarize yourself with a routine so you can help residents when they try. You’ll likely enjoy it as much as your residents do! You can also consider having a tai chi instructor come to your facility to hold a class. Do you already do tai chi classes at your community? If so, please let us know and send a picture if you can!


  • Weekly Tidbit for August 26, 2018: Punching Bags Can Help with Parkinson's Disease

    A research facilitator for our study shared with us that one of the assisted living facilities she’s working with is going to purchase a punching bag for their gym because there is quite a bit of research that shows using a punching bag helps improve symptoms of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. We agree that this is a great idea, and wanted to share it with you too!

    We know that exercise plays a key role in alleviating some of the symptoms of the disease, but certain exercises can become difficult to engage in as Parkinson’s progresses and a fear of falling can keep people from even trying. That’s where the punching bag comes in. Research supports non-contact boxing as a way to improve agility, gait and balance for people with Parkinson’s disease. It also serves as a great outlet for the frustration that people with this disease can feel. There are programs around the country that hold boxing classes for people with Parkinson’s, which incorporate other exercises in addition to using the punching bag.

    We found several stories about this, including this interesting and inspiring one from the Washington Post:


    And another from the Daily Hampshire Gazette: https://www.gazettenet.com/Boxing-and-Parkinson-s-13288874

    Perhaps this is something you can try at your facility? Keep in mind that it’s great exercise for everyone—not just those with Parkinson’s disease!

  • Weekly Tidbit for August 19, 2018: Function Focused Care--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 because they do not involve a change in lifestyle habits, but instead are 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 those habits become a standard way of living.

    We encourage you to reflect upon the changes your facility has made over the past months 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 once the official study is over. 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.