As the sands of time lead our loved ones into nursing facilities, we are presented with a unique and enormous responsibility: to ensure their days are filled with care, enjoyment, and health.
Nursing homes are havens of support with a single mission: to provide a refuge for older adults throughout their golden years. The commitment to maintaining their health and enhancing their contentment is at the heart of this goal.
In this blog, we will discuss different ways to keep seniors healthy and happy in nursing homes.
So, let’s get started!
Ensure Proper Medication:
The common issue of polypharmacy necessitates immediate intervention from caretakers in nursing homes. Surprisingly, studies show that 91% of nursing home residents are subjected to five medications daily, with 74% receiving nine or more drugs daily. The dangers of extensive polypharmacy include cognitive impairment, broken bones, adverse drug events (ADEs), and dangerous interaction between medications.
Nursing homes must emphasize adequate medication administration to prioritize the well-being of residents. Proper drug administration and items like medical supply carts are critical for providing quality care in long-term care institutions.
Here are some suggestions for combating polypharmacy and improving medication safety in long-term care facilities:
- Routine Medication Reviews: Collaborate with healthcare providers and chemists to assess the efficacy and importance of each medicine. Consider the dose of the medicine, duration of usage, and potential adverse effects of taking numerous medicines together.
- Careful Deprescribing: Deprescribing entails terminating or reducing medications that may no longer be needed or pose a risk of damage. Always speak with the resident’s primary healthcare provider before making any adjustments. Ensure you document the changes in the nursing home’s senior care software for future reference.
- Making Informed Decisions Through Patient-Centered Care: Include residents and their families in discussions regarding drug dose, side effects, and treatment objectives. To avoid gaps or errors in care, ensure that complete medication lists are shared during transfers.
Preventing Elder Abuse:
Elder abuse in nursing homes is a serious problem that jeopardizes residents’ well-being and safety. This issue manifests itself in various ways, including physical and psychological abuse, financial exploitation, sexual abuse, and neglect.
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 attempted to address these concerns and improve resident care quality. Nonetheless, elder abuse frequently goes unrecognized in nursing homes, emphasizing the vital role that caregivers and families play in prevention.
Here are some helpful tips for reducing elder abuse:
- Listening and Supporting: Recognize the obstacles that older individuals encounter and offer both emotional and practical aid, such as assistance with medication management and transportation.
- Reporting Suspected Abuse: Report any abuse or suspicions to local authorities, protective services, or ombudsperson services. Holding abusers accountable is vital in abuse prevention.
- Educating Staff: Train nursing home staff to recognize and report elder abuse, ensuring early identification and intervention.
- Recognizing Signs: Learn how signs of elder abuse differ from the natural aging process to protect residents effectively.
- Combating Social Isolation: Check on older adults with limited social connections to prevent isolation, which can reduce the risk of elder abuse.
- Supporting Caregivers: Assist overburdened caregivers through local relief care groups, counseling, and adult day care programs to promote their well-being.
- Addressing Substance Abuse: Encourage individuals with drug or alcohol problems, whether caregivers or older adults, to seek help, as addressing substance abuse can prevent elder abuse.
Focus on Infection Control:
Infections have emerged as a critical issue impacting the health and safety of nursing home residents. Among these infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a prevalent concern, presenting unique challenges for patients and healthcare providers.
UTIs are alarmingly common in nursing homes, affecting nearly 2 million residents annually, often linked to using catheters, which are essential for those with mobility or continence issues. This high prevalence raises concerns for residents’ quality of life and the strain it places on healthcare resources.
Diagnosing UTIs in this setting can be complex due to communication barriers, chronic symptoms, and comorbidities. To combat the issue, nursing homes must implement rigorous infection control measures. Moreover, effective infection control programs involve proper hygiene practices, appropriate catheter use, and vigilant resident monitoring.
Address Potential Falls:
Falls are a serious safety problem in nursing homes. These accidents can have profound implications, such as mild and sometimes severe injuries, protracted hospitalizations, a lower quality of life, or, in tragic situations, death.
As a nursing home caretaker, understanding the factors associated with an increased risk of falls is key to implementing appropriate safety measures.
These elements include a variety of considerations:
- Previous Falls: Senior loved ones with a history of falls are at a higher risk of future accidents. These falls may indicate underlying difficulties, such as balance or mobility issues, demanding specialized therapy.
- Tendency to Wander: This is a frequent behavior among individuals with cognitive impairments such as dementia; wandering can increase the risk of falls owing to disorientation and agitation.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Because of problems like postural instability, muscle rigidity, and gait difficulties, residents with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk of falling.
- Dizziness: Whether caused by medical conditions, drugs, or dehydration, dizziness can impair balance and coordination, increasing the risk of falling. Assessment and management are critical.
- Assistive Walking Tools: While canes and walkers help with mobility, their use may increase the risk of falling owing to instability, muscle weakness, or balance concerns.
- Polypharmacy: Taking too many medications can increase the risk of falling due to adverse effects such as tiredness and/or disorientation.
To prevent falls and their detrimental impacts, consider the following strategies:
- Encourage exercises that emphasize balance, gait, and strength.
- Provide individual or group physical treatment.
- Ensure a safe living environment by installing adequate lighting and slip-resistant flooring.
- Treat vitamin D deficiency.
- Reduce the number of prescriptions by scheduling regular visits and evaluations.
- Handle visual and hearing problems.
- Arrhythmias must be effectively managed.
- Address foot and footwear issues to ensure residents wear supportive shoes.
By adopting these comprehensive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of falls and enhance the safety and well-being of older adults.
In our shared journey of caring for our beloved seniors in nursing homes, one thing remains crystal clear: Their health and happiness are our utmost priorities. These are their golden years, and our role is to ensure they shine brightly. From proper medication management to infection control, preventing elder abuse, and addressing falls, these steps aren’t just protocols; they embody love and dedication.
Together, as caregivers, families, and nursing home staff, we can create an environment where our seniors thrive and know they are cherished, cared for, and, most importantly, happy.