The thought of living in a nursing home is one that no senior looks forward to. They are often large building complexes that are made to resemble a hospital. While nursing home residents are normally elderly individuals, they are people who don’t need to be in a hospital but can’t be cared for at home.
The existence of nursing homes is a necessity in this day and age, as health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other serious mental disorders are on the rise and need around the clock care. While this may sound ideal, a new study finds that giving nursing home residents more control can drastically improve their quality of life and even reduce mortality.
Nursing homes provide necessary care
Nursing homes typically provide onsite medical care to their residents, and some may also provide them with physical and occupational therapy as well. Nurses’ stations can be found on each floor, with doctors’ visits every so often to ensure proper health maintenance. While the seniors of these homes are free to come and go throughout the premises, they are often limited to some degree, with most decisions made for them.
A study was set out to see whether giving nursing home residents more control over their lives would lead to improved health outcomes. The researchers divided the study participants into two groups: one allowed to make various choices and the other leaving that responsibility to the staff.
Simple changes lead to positive results
The choice-makers were allowed to rearrange furniture, choose movies they wanted to watch, and make other decisions that impacted their daily lives. The study participants were also given the option to care for a living plant. The researchers found that those who were given more control were happier and more active and alert.
Interestingly, this group was more likely to visit other nursing home residents and other people outside the facility. Nursing staff also rated 93 percent of these participants as improved, compared to only 21 percent of the other group.
A follow-up study by the same research group found that the group that was given more control over their choices had a 50 percent lower mortality rate after 18 months.
Living in a nursing home may seem like a gloomy situation, as being separated from your home and even loved ones can be disheartening at times. But they serve to provide more good than the negative connotations that often go with them. This study gives us more insight into how easy it is for us to adapt to our current situation and dramatically improve our quality of life with only a few simple changes.