Tidbit of the Week

  • Tidbit of the Week for October 27, 2019: Time to Address Residents' Fears about Exercise

    Halloween is fast approaching  (Thursday this week!), so we thought now would be a good time to address the fears that some of your residents may have about walking, falling and exercise.

    It’s easy to understand that if a person has fallen before and gotten hurt—often this is what led them to living in an AL community—that they are afraid of falling again. Because of this fear, they avoid walking and become weaker, which actually increases their risk of falling again. Sometimes people  with arthritis shy away from exercise because they think it will be too painful for their knees, hips, etc. In fact, exercise can help relieve arthritis pain.

    Below are some things that you and your staff can do to help reduce the fears that your residents may have about physical activity:

    1. Be sure that residents have consistent opportunities to walk safely with a nurse or aid.
    2. Practice sit-to-stand exercises with a handrail in the hallway and a gait belt if needed to help residents feel secure as they strengthen their lower body and improve balance.
    3. Ask the residents about their fears and let them express how they feel; be sure to listen to what they are telling you.
    4. Some residents are reluctant to walk, do exercises or transfer out of their wheelchairs in front of their peers. Be considerate of this, and try to help them do these things privately.
    5. Educate—never stop educating!—your residents about the benefits of walking and regular exercise. Help break the vicious cycle of falling, not walking because of fear of falling again, then getting weak and falling again!
    6. Start small. No need to begin with a walk around the whole complex!  Start by walking a few doors down the hall or to the dining room if close by. Do 3 or 5 sit-to-stands and end with success. Gradually increase the number and frequency over several weeks.
    7. Offer support  and words of encouragement  when a resident begins walking more, transferring  from  a wheelchair to a chair, going to exercise class, and doing sit-to-stand exercises.

    Lastly, we invite you to take a minute to watch this fantastic video of older adults in an assisted living community doing the Monster Mash—with amazing costumes and lip syncing too! We admit it raises the bar a bit, but it can surely inspire you and your staff to get your residents up and dancing at your Halloween parties this week: https://youtu.be/v_2KRVWz6mA

    Have a great week!

  • Weekly Tidbit for October 20, 2019: Activity Logs Can Help Motivate Residents

    Our friends at County Meadows in Pennsylvania have developed a simple yet effective way to document a resident’s participation in activities of daily living and physical activity. This simple form (see example here) can help residents be accountable for their participation and motivate them to continue with it. It also helps staff keep track of a resident’s goals and provides a way to show family members what their loved one is accomplishing on his/her own. Give it a try with a few of your residents and let us know what you think!

    Also, don’t forget out our “Stand Up to Falls” contest!!! Email us pictures, videos or written descriptions of your staff working with residents to stand and transfer by October 31st, and your staff could win a pizza party!


  • Weekly Tidbit for October 13, 2019: Tips for Family to Help Promote FFC

    Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner! You will probably have more family and friends visiting during the holiday season, and it’s a perfect opportunity to get them involved in Function Focused Care. One of the many benefits of optimizing function and keeping residents strong is that they can more easily participate in holiday festivities and go on outings with loved ones.

    Click here to open an “ambulation record” sheet that staff and family members can use to more easily track how far a resident walks each day. By keeping a record of progress, visiting family members & friends may be more likely to attempt ambulation so the resident can reach his/her goal.

    Share these tips with your residents’ families and friends:

    10 tips to help your loved ones optimize function and increase strength:

    1. Ask your family member about setting goals for fitness or activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, etc.), such as going to an exercise class regularly, walking to meals, or transferring to a chair from a wheelchair regularly.
    2. Find out when exercise classes are held and remind them to go.
    3. Try to avoid visits during exercise class times so they can attend class.
    4. Better yet---attend exercise class with them if that will help motivate them to go!
    5. Tell them how important exercise is to promote overall health, increase strength, reduce risk of falls, fractures and hospitalizations, and to reduce and ultimately prevent pain.
    6. Tell them about how you like to exercise and what it has done for you.
    7. When you visit your family member, help get them moving instead of sitting in their room and talking. Go for a walk outside or to a pleasant spot inside, or do basic range of motion exercises with them such as rotating their joints (ankles, shoulders, knees and wrists).
    8. For birthdays and the holiday season, buy them gifts that promote independence such as scrub mitts for residents who have problems with dexterity, zipper extenders for those who have trouble putting on clothes, and clothing that is easier to put on such as elastic waist pants and pull-on or zippered shirts instead of buttons. Hand weights, pedometers to measure steps, stationary pedalers and elastic bands are great to help promote physical activity!
    9. If they have a decline in functions, such as after an illness, resist the urge to do everything for them. It is important to promote their function and help them to get back to their baseline.
    10. Tell them you know they can reach their goals. A simple, “I know you can do it!”  and “You’re doing great!” can go a long way. Tell them you are proud of them for their effort. Everyone likes to hear things like this!


  • Weekly Tidbit for October 6, 2019: Tips on Oral Care

    Oral health plays a key role in the comfort and well-being 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 not only help your residents maintain good oral health, but also help ensure that they are eating well too (after all, who wants to eat with a sore mouth?).

    Click here to open a flyer we created with some simple tips for assisting residents with oral care. You can also watch a brief video we made that illustrates some of these tips at: http://www.functionfocusedcare.org/oral-care

    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. You can use them to train staff and remind them about the importance of oral health for residents:


  • Weekly Tidbit for September 29, 2019: The Capability Test Can Help You Set FFC Goals

    One of our favorite tools—the Capability Test—can help you determine what a resident can do. Once you know this, you can develop service plans that prioritize what the resident CAN do over what you and your staff will do for them, and optimize their function! Nurses, nursing assistants, recreation staff and others can use this tool for new residents, residents who have been sick or at the hospital and may be weaker now, or current residents who you suspect are able to do more than they let on!

    The tool (see attachment to this email) only takes about 5 minutes to complete. You will assess the resident’s upper and lower body range of motion, ability to stand up from a chair, and ability to follow a 3-step verbal and/or visual direction. Take a look at the tool and try it with two of your residents this week. Let us know if you have any questions about how to use the tool. You nurse facilitator can help you too. You might be surprised at what you learn…some residents can do more than we expect. They just need some cueing and words of encouragement from you.


  • Weekly Tidbit for September 22, 2019: Out of the Mouths of...Centenarians

    Back in June, we did a tidbit on finding “Exercise Ambassadors” in your community to help persuade fellow residents to come to exercise class (click here to read it on the FFC website: http://www.functionfocusedcare.org/tip-of-the-week?page=2 You’ll need to scroll down to see the tidbit from June 2.)

    We mentioned a resident who, at 102 years old, exercises every day and wishes other residents would join her more often. She took her exercise ambassador role seriously, and spoke to her fellow residents at a recent council meeting. Click here to see a brief video of her explaining why she enjoys exercising so much. Please take a look! We hope this inspires you, your staff and residents not to give up on exercise. It’s never too late to start and is not only beneficial for physical health, but for emotional health and positive social interaction too.


  • Weekly Tidbit for September 15, 2019: Outdoor Fun for Autumn Months

    Last month, Candlelight Cove in Easton, MD held a beach party at their community and it was so much fun, they plan to make it an annual event! They were inspired by our recent tidbit that highlighted a “stay at home” walking tour of Philadelphia and decided to bring the beach to them! The party included games with prizes, a photo corner with a beach backdrop & props, a visit from preschoolers, live beach music, and delicious beach-themed food. The highlight was the dunking tank! Residents took turns throwing balls to dunk Bob Scheele, the Executive Director. 

    While it might be late for a beach party now that fall is almost here, there are other great themes you can use for an Autumn outdoor party:

    • Football tailgating party before watching the game on the big screen. Grill food, have games and prizes, learn cheers (get residents moving!) and make signs to hold up during the game.
    • Oktoberfest Party! Bring Germany to you with German music, beer (regular and/or non-alcoholic), German food and dancing.
    • Halloween costume parade and trick or treat outside.
    • Fall festival with pumping throws, pumpkin painting, scarecrow-making and games & goodies.

    Let us know if you hold any fall festivities and send pictures too!

  • Weekly Tidbit for September 8, 2019: Stand Up Against Falls!

    Fall is just around the corner, and soon we’ll be watching colorful autumn leaves float gracefully to the ground.

    In assisted living communities, when we hear the word “fall,” a much different scene usually comes to mind and there’s not much graceful about it! Fear of falling is common among residents, their loved ones, and even staff, but there are things we can do to help reduce the risk of falls. One of them is to keep residents strong and improve their balance by encouraging them to perform sit-to-stand exercises regularly, and to transfer from wheelchairs to chairs for meals and activities.

    To help highlight the benefits of sit-to-stands and transfers, we are announcing our “Stand Up Against Falls” contest! During the months of September and October, we’d like your staff to find creative ways to get residents doing sit-to-stands…try them in groups before meals, do them to fun music, get competitive with in-house contests, and even dance once people are standing.

    Email us pictures, videos or written descriptions of your staff working with residents to stand and transfer by October 31st, and your staff could win a pizza party! We’ve even attached a contest flier to help you get started.

    Here’s a quick video of the exercise. Your residents can hold onto the handrail in a hallway for extra help if they need it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chZryRzvJnY

    And here’s a handout with instructions from the CDC that you can post: https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/Chair_Rise_Exercise-print.pdf

  • Tidbit of the Week for September 1, 2019: Recognizing Residents Engaged in FFC

    September is here! Pumpkin-spiced…well, everything…is back in stores, football is back on television, and students are heading back to school.

    Speaking of school, you might remember a time when a teacher or coach congratulated you for a job well done, such as meeting a goal you’d set for yourself or going above and beyond what was expected. While outside praise shouldn’t be our only motivating factor for doing well, it’s still nice to be recognized when we do. Our achievements can also create positive peer pressure that can help others work harder towards their goals.

    This concept can help you motivate your residents to participate in Function Focused Care (FFC). For example, Bayberry at Emerald Court in Massachusetts now uses their daily activity calendar to feature residents who are participating in an FFC activity! (Click here to see).  This helps residents become role models for others, encourages the highlighted residents to keep up the good work, and helps educate your community about what Function Focused Care is. Think about what residents you could highlight this week in your community, and ask your team to come up with creative ways to spotlight residents—and staff!—who are participating in Function Focused Care.

  • Weekly Tidbit for August 18, 2019: Stepping Study Can Help Motivate Residents to Keep Walking!

    A study published this past spring in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine found that older women can benefit significantly from walking, and they don’t need to hit the often quoted “10,000 steps/day” mark to reap the rewards.

    The study authors concluded that, “Among older women, as few as approximately 4400 steps/day was significantly related to lower mortality rates compared with approximately 2700 steps/day. With more steps per day, mortality rates progressively decreased before leveling at approximately 7500 steps/day. Stepping intensity was not clearly related to lower mortality rates after accounting for total steps per day.”

    So the bottom line is: Start walking and keep walking!  Some may need to start with simple goals like walking to the dining room for meals. Don’t give up. The benefits of consistent walking have been shown repeatedly in study after study. We don’t make this stuff up! Start a walking club in your community if you don’t already have one, just in time for the upcoming autumn weather that’s perfect for outdoor strolls.

    Here is a link to the study abstract:


    Have a great week!