Examples of Individualized Care
This section is included to give you practical examples of how our care differs from the one-size-fits-all approach of standard assisted living care. Our examples are all of real clients, with names changed. What we are encouraging you to look at is not that one person has showers once a week and someone else,three times a week, but how the shower/bath experience is tailored for each person, how the activities are tailored for each person, etc.
Melissa, David and Bertha described below all needed assistance. Yet to help them achieve a fulfilling life, they needed assistance with more than their loss of skills. Each also needed assistance finding and living their life passions once again.
Margaret had a zest for life. She would refer to herself as a bohemian because her long history of life had been dedicated to adventure and play.
She was always on the lookout for new exotic things to see and exciting things to do. On her 83rd birthday she went para-sailing in tandem with her heart doctor (just in case).
We have always tried to create Bed & Breakfast style breakfasts to give that spa/resort feel. But our seniors having come through the depression, often choose something simple and healthy, like oatmeal, over the gourmet. Not Margaret, she wanted meals, as well as life, to be an experience.
So we'd be constantly on the lookout for new exotic foods for her to try, especially fruit, which was her favorite. We'd also go through recipe books with her by the hour and let her pick out all kinds of recipes to try out. Then we'd scurry around the county trying to find all the ingredients. Needless to say, when she sat down to eat, she ate slowly, savoring all the new flavors. After two or more platefuls, which took almost 3 hours she would be almost ready to start the next meal. (for all you jealous types, she kept a nice slim figure).
Yes, she was one of only two of our residents who still had a passion for sun tanning after eighty plus years. So you'd find her often on a lounge on the patio reading a good book and baking. Well, almost. Our job, of course, was to protect her from getting heatstroke or sunburn.
Notice that we didn't keep her from doing her passion, even though it was risky. Our job was to make her safe by keeping her slathered with sunscreen, cooling and hydrating her, and encouraging her to be outside in the sun only during the safest parts of the day.
The same goes for the lake. Margaret was one of the few courageous enough to go out in the paddle boats regularly in the summer. She would come back an exhilarated adventurer, like someone who had just conquered Mt. Everest. Some might consider that extreme for a lady in her eighties. We would too, but it was right in character for someone who went parasailing at the same age with no fear.
Like we said. Margaret enjoyed life and we all enjoyed life through her eyes as well.
One more thing - as you can guess, she made bathing a luxurious experience. At her chosen time of the week, on her chosen days, we would light some candles and dim the lights in the bathroom. As we helped her slip down into her tub, full of bubble bath, we would draw the bath curtains partially for her privacy to more match the intimate mood with her candles.
After a leisurely bath in which she was fully relaxed, but invigorated, we brought it some newly heated fluffy bath towels giving her a soft pampering.
Let's contrast this to what Margaret's care would have been like just following a standard care plan. In a standard care plan, the goal is to evaluate what the client isn't able to do himself and assist or do it for him. This is considered standard of care. Normally this would be done by schedule.
Margaret would probably be contracted for three delicious meals/day in a beautiful dining hall. A gracious aid would most likely have come to get her to come to the meal and be with a lot of nice other people.
After the meal, she would have been taken back to her room (she couldn't walk well on her own), helped to her favorite chair and given her book to read. After all we know she loves reading.
She would be invited to a wondrous selection of activities involving games, outings, and other social occasions. Again Margaret would have enjoyed them all because she is so sociable.
And as for her need for help with bathing, that would have been provided as well. Her contract would have scheduled times each week when and kind and friendly aid would help her with a quick shower, putting her at ease and getting in a good visit at the same time.
Yes, Margaret would have had a good life under the standard care plan. She probably would have been happy. But would she have been a completely fulfilled and happy as she was having her care and life adapted to her instead of having her adapt to her care?
David's wall was covered with medals. He had been a marathon runner for years and his wall was a testimony to how well he had placed. Even though aging, he still ran over 1000 miles/year and it became his identity, well part if it. His personality and lifestyle was very rich in adventure and relationships. He was the kind of guy who would call his friends spontaneously at midnight to go biking with him through the golf course under the full moon.
Tragically he died one day on the track. (some kind of electrical thing in the heart that men can get) But being in such amazingly great shape, when the paramedics came in 10 minutes, David surprised everybody by coming back to life. Unfortunately, his heart and brain were now damaged and he came back in slow motion. Yes, every move he made was at quarter speed, every word he said was at quarter speed.
Under the normal standard of care David would have been given a nice room where he could listen to his music (you guessed it, he was passionate about his music too) read, watch TV and make the best of a poor situation.
But's that's not what we did. We arranged for him to get new golf clubs, a fishing pole and bathing suit. He loved doing these things. With our caregivers, he went and played as many holes of golf as he could (slowly), he explored and tried out all the fishing holes in the county, even bringing back dinner now and again. And yes, he went swimming as much as he wanted.
Above all, I would run with him. It may have been slower than everybody else's walking speed, and we didn't go very far. but we didn't care, it was what made him glow. There was an excitement, a fulfillment that just showed on his face and on his countenance that I can never forget.
There is one thing that I haven't told you. David's memory had unfortunately been damaged as well. Most of the time after a few hours he didn't remember what he had done earlier. Many people would ask us why we would do all these activities for him if he couldn't remember that he did them. It was because he could still feel the happiness and fulfillment of being him and doing what he liked best even if he couldn't remember what he had been doing.
And that fulfillment you can't measure in just memories.
Most of you don't have family members needing care that recently ran 1000 miles a year or want to go para-sailing in their 80's. If not, then this example then is for you.
Bertha was one of those elderly people that really earned the name of sweet little old lady. Her life was love for her family. Her nature was nurturing and cheerful. She was always supportive of our help for her and she would return it back with compliments and encouragement.
She, like almost everybody her age, had grown up through the Great Depression and didn't think kindly of either wasting time or money. Her life was practical because it always had to be. If you asked her to play a game, she would politely refuse. We wondered why.
We soon realized after getting to know her that she was quite typical of her generation. Amusements were disdainful, and a waste of time, but practical work was ennobling and uplifting. It became evident very quickly that her passion wasn't in having an easy life but in being useful.
For example, after a windy day she asked if we could give her a broom so she could go outside and sweep the patio. It made us a bit nervous - what if she lost her balance? But we gave her the broom and discreetly watched to make sure she didn't get tired or wobbly. She swept the patio and then went on and swept the sidewalks. She was completely wrapped up in the task - and happy. There was an air of contentment about her that stated that seemed to say there was no other place she'd rather be or thing she'd rather do.
We asked her if she would consider making sweeping the patio her chore. She was delighted. She wanted to be useful again in an area she was comfortable with.
Bertha was frail and got tired easily, but she worked with us in the kitchen and around the house as much as she could. We would never let her overdo it, but we appreciated her help almost as much as her company.
Again we found that she was typical of her generation in another area. While she didn't like amusements, preferring keeping up a home, she did love to make things, especially crafts. In this way she could do something fun and creative while still doing or making things for others.
Doing crafts actually seemed to build up her energy. We had a hard time trying to keep up figuring out what she wanted to make and keeping her in supplies.
I want you to consider this. It is common for care facilities to spend all their energy to try to 'entertain' our senior residents with programs and activities, but where people find fulfilment is in the what they do in life, especially seniors from a past generation. And if we encourage them to sit down and play cards all day, or any other activity and let us do everything for them, we take away their sense of worth.
At Lakeside Gardens we believe that by sharing a home with our residents where they can choose to help make their favorite recipe for the other residents, dust a room, or maintain a small section of a flower garden, our residents can keep their 'real life' and thereby their sense of worth.
Other tidbits [top]
One of the things that seniors miss the most is being able to invite friends over and extend their hospitality by giving them tea or a meal. But often they are unable to. We recognize this major need for our residents to graciously host their friends and family when they come over. We try to help...
For example, we have a resident who has his friends over for a private potluck dinner once a month just like he did when he was living in his home.
One of our residents loved cooking meals for others, so her meaningful activity is to help with meal planning and recipe selection.
One resident has his buddy over for fresh baked goodies and coffee every Thursday.
Another resident was quite the hostess and loved having dinner parties but was no longer able to when she was living in her own home. But when she moved here, she was able to invite her family over for a wonderful meal which she had personally selected recipes from her own recipe collection and had us prepare them. She selected the linens and china settings and watched over the setting of the table. She enjoyed every moment of being reconnected with her dinner hostess self. All of these are true examples of how we were able to enhance the lives of our residents by providing opportunities for meaningful activities tailored to their own personal interests.