Tips for Creating a Supportive Environment for Older Adults

//Tips for Creating a Supportive Environment for Older Adults

Tips for Creating a Supportive Environment for Older Adults

The “prepared environment” is designed to facilitate independence and exploration. When designing a Montessori environment for older adults, it can be hard to know where to start. Keep these simple tips in mind:

make the environment for older adults beautiful and inviting

The prepared environment for older adults is beautiful and inviting. Those living in the care community can help choose or donate beautiful pieces of art to display; and they can be changed every month or so to keep the areas full of interest. Interactive displays, such as a suitcase full of travel souvenirs, can be used to invite exploration and conversation. Bring nature inside as much as possible and fill the area with plants for which the elders can care.

facilitate freedom of movement and activity for older adults

A prepared environment for older adults facilitates freedom of movement and activity. Provide snacks and beverages in a manner that encourages individuals to help themselves. Materials are available such as cleaning supplies, watering cans, and unfolded laundry, so that elders change choose to contribute in meaningful ways to the community. Elders have access to the outdoors in order to enjoy the beauty of nature and get exercise.

Hands-on materials tailored to elders’ hobbies and interests

A prepared environment for older adults is rich with opportunities for meaningful engagement and socialization. Hands-on materials tailored to elders’ hobbies and interests are available 24 hours as a day. Materials are displayed attractively on open shelves that are wheelchair accessible. Visual cues to invite individuals to use the materials such as, “Please shine the shoes” or “Please help yourself to a drink.”

ideal supportive environment for thsoe with dementia

A prepared environment for older adults is organized, orderly, and clean. The furniture must be arranged to allow adequate space for movement, carrying of materials, and placing it on tables. The environment is uncluttered. There should not be any staff signs, supplies, materials, or equipment visible. Only material that supports the person’s social, emotional, cognitive or spiritual needs is in environment.

wayfinding cues such as high contrast signage

A prepared environment for older adults incorporates visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory cues to support memory impairment. For example, wayfinding cues such as high contrast signage and landmarks are provided for all destinations. Bedrooms are marked with the person’s name in large print and a large photo of the individual that he or she recognizes. All members of the community should wear easy to read, high contrast name badges. Staff, volunteers and elders should have the same name badge. Offer them to family who visit often as well.

With some simple, inexpensive modifications, any environment can be modified to support elders’ independence, freedom, choice, and interests.

By | 2019-03-29T12:47:29+00:00 March 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for SpeechPathology.com. Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.
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