The Role of Healthful Physical Environments in Non Medical Home Care
Today’s post touches on the value of creating healthful physical environments in non medical home care settings.
Read on to learn why an environmental overhaul might be necessary, and get 3 tips on how to build better living spaces for your loved one, courtesy of our non medical home care team in Macomb County, Michigan.
Healthful Environments in Non Medical Home Care
A recent study published in the Gerontologist journal highlighted a number of ways in which the quality of physical environments can affect senior health.
Broadly speaking, healthful non medical home care environments contribute to seniors’ qualify of life and independence by capitalizing on strengths, accommodating preferences, and reducing demands. In contrast, poorly designed environments can “inhibit functioning and social well-being,” while also putting loved ones at greater risk of falling and depression.
Functionally impaired residents, including those living with dementia, shortness of breath, immobility, or vision problems, have the most to gain from environmental overhauls, but that’s not to say others can’t benefit.
When most people think of “healthful environments,” they think of clean, organized, and well-lit spaces, free of tripping hazards and usable for various activities. And if that’s what your loved one needs, our non medical home care workers can certainly provide it. But for most seniors, there’s more to a healthful physical space than these basic components.
In most cases, building a healthful physical environment is a bit more of a balancing act that reconciles best practices and safety considerations with highly personal comforts.
To help you design a healthful physical environment for your loved one, our non medical home care team in Macomb County, Michigan has put together the following tips:
- Strike a balance between meaningful activities, comfort, and safety. While it’s true that an austere assisted living apartment might be safer than a cluttered space in terms of trip-and-fall hazards, the lack of meaningful possessions and mementos might actually make your loved one feel worse than they did before the big clean-up. Similarly, a private room or the use of visual barriers between roommates in a shared room would definitely improve the privacy outcome, but may affect the quality of relationships and meaningful activity. To find the right balance for your loved one, invite them to join you in a free care consultation with our team.
- Build healthful environments with your parents, not for them. According to Cutler et al. (2006), “lack of control over the environment exacerbates boredom, anxiety, and depression, and may induce learned helplessness because of residents’ perceptions that they have no control over their lives” (p. 43).With that in mind, make sure to involve your loved one in the decision-making process when considering positive changes that can be made to their physical environment, rather than telling them what they want. Sometimes simply asking your parent whether they’d like additional help with housekeeping before you schedule this non medical home care service is enough to validate their personal agency.At Always Best Care Clinton Township, we believe this is true of both the physical environment and the “care environment,” which is why we also make sure your loved one plays a big part in finding their place in the care continuum.
- Preserve meaningful possessions and honor old routines to create a sense of place. Cutler et al. (2006) noted how seniors who were able to age in the home, with full access to “meaningful possessions” and the “habits for using space that afford them a sense of being in their own place,” had lower incidence of depression and anxiety than those who were displaced (p. 43). That’s one reason why our team at ABC Clinton Township does everything in their power to help Michigan seniors “age in place,” in the comfort of their own homes. For those who need to be moved to assisted living facilities, downsizing will be necessary, but try your best to bring meaningful possessions and establish spaces and routines that preserve the “sense of place” your loved one created in the home.
Cutler, L. J., Kane, R. A., Degenholtz, H. B., Miller, M. J., & Grant, L. (2006). Assessing and comparing physical environments for nursing home residents: Using new tools for greater research specificity. The Gerontologist, 46(1), 42-51.