A new grant from Wheat Ridge Ministries will fund a special, innovative project to better serve memory impaired residents at Liberty’s senior living communities.
Following national trends, Liberty Lutheran’s senior communities are seeing a significant increase in older adult residents with cognitive impairments, especially mid to late state dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 13 percent of Pennsylvania seniors are currently living with dementia, a figure which is expected to increase by nearly 20 percent within the next ten years.
The Quiet Lounge, as it’s being called, is designed to provide a restful, supportive experience for lower-functioning residents of senior living communities, especially those with dementia or other severe cognitive impairments. The concept was developed by Liberty’s Nurse Educator Karen Read and Katelyn McKinley, Director of Community Life at Artman, one of Liberty’s senior living communities located in Ambler, Montgomery County. Katelyn says she frequently witnesses her staff struggling to engage lower-functioning residents in traditional group activities and community life programs.
“The late afternoon and evening hours are especially challenging as many residents experience increased confusion and agitation during this time of the day. In reading about this issue I was alarmed to discover research indicating that nursing home residents with dementia are unengaged or not participating in any structured activities for approximately two-thirds of their entire day,” Katelyn says. “Seeking to uphold our philosophy of person-centered care, I was inspired to develop a program that addresses the unique needs of our cognitively impaired residents and helps them experience wellness through positive stimulation techniques.”
The Quiet Lounge is actually a portable cart that includes multiple non-pharmacological interventions such as aromatherapy, music, massage, and small puzzles/crafts to positively engage the mind, body and spirit of older adults living with dementia. Through experimentation with these methods on a one-on-one basis with several residents, we found significant improvement in their physical behavior, emotional state and overall level of social engagement.
The $4,500 in funding from Wheat Ridge allows Liberty to purchase supplies and equipment for three Quiet Lounge carts – one for each Liberty Lutheran skilled nursing and personal care community – the Artman, Paul’s Run Retirement Community in Northeast Philadelphia and The Village at Penn State in State College. This will benefit up to 410 residents at the three communities. The setup and use of the portable Quiet Lounge begin this summer at Artman, with equipment and supplies designed to respond to the various sensory needs of seniors with diminished cognitive functioning.