Aging is a normal part of human development -- we all grow older. Organizations that understand and embrace the normalcy of aging can focus more on improving the quality of life for aging residents rather than simply treating symptoms.
Interestingly, improving quality of life reduces disease symptoms, while focusing on solely on symptom reduction has little positive impact on quality of life.
Improving quality of life requires organizations to conceptualize their services through a whole-person perspective. This involves addressing psychosocial issues and concerns to the same degree or more than physical needs.
Organizations measure physical conditions, such a blood pressure, regularly to ensure stability and make adjustments to medications and other treatments as needed. A whole-person approach places importance on measuring, monitoring, and addressing psychosocial and spiritual health.
Research identifies four primary psychosocial issues facing the elderly and individuals who receive care. If an organization wants to impact its clients' quality of life, it should consider these issues in its approach to care planning.
The Four Issues
Loneliness. Loneliness is an epidemic in the elderly (see article from November 30, 2016). At the center of loneliness is the feeling of not having quality connections and relationships. As residents become more socially isolated, the likelihood of loneliness increases. However, simply being around people does not inherently fix loneliness. Only quality connection can improve the feeling of loneliness.
Boredom. Activity is important at any age. As our ability to be physically active decreases, finding ways to stimulate ourselves cognitively and physically becomes more difficult. Lack of stimulation impacts mood and decreases the drive for engagement.
Fear and Worry. As residents become dependent on others for care and well-being, they lose a degree of control. Many aging individuals experience significant anxiety and worry about their physical and emotional well-being, finances, and the ability to take care of their own needs.
Loss of Purpose. Having meaningful tasks, goals, and responsibilities provides a sense of purpose. We all need this purpose in our lives, and it gives us a reason to wake up, be productive, and contribute. Sense of purpose can take on many different forms, but without it getting through a day becomes difficult.
Addressing the Four Issues:
Train Caregivers and Staff. Ensuring that staff recognize the Four Issues in residents and respond to them accordingly is necessary for providing person-centered care and improving resident's quality of life.
Measure and Monitor. Measure the degree to which residents and clients are experiencing the Four Issues just as your measure and monitor physical symptoms and conditions. Each person will experience psychosocial issues at various times to varying degrees. Monitoring these issues allows you to plan and respond effectively and track the effectiveness of treatment and programming.
Watch for our articles exploring each of the Four Issues in depth in 2017. We will be breaking down how to notice and measure the issues, as well as how to address them.
Contact CareProfiler to learn more about how we can help your organization meet the psychosocial needs of your residents and clients.
Beliveau, J. (2013). Middle managers' role in transferring person-centered management and care. The Service Industries Journal, 1345-1362.
Degenholtz, H., Kane, R.A., Kane, R.L., Bershadsky, B., & Kling, K. (2006). Predicting nursing facility residents' quality of life using external indicators. Health Services Research, 41(2), 335-356.
Kane, R.L., Rockwood, T., Hyer, K., Desjardins, K., Brassard, A., Gessert, C., & Kane, R.A. (2005). Rating the importance of resident's quality of life. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 53(12), 1378-1383.
Loe, M. & Moore, C. D. (2012). From nursing home to green house: Changing contexts of elder care in the United States. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 31, 755-763.
Petersen, J., et al. (2016). Longitudinal relationship between loneliness and social isolation in older adults. Journal of Aging and Health, 775-795.