By Haley Burress United States
If your senior living community has a memory care unit, you already know how busy it can be. It’s bustling with all sorts of resident, staff, and visitor activity.
All that extra stimulation can increase anxiety and negative behaviors in residents. Here’s how to keep the environment cozy, peaceful, and calm.
All parts of senior living are busy - even the beginner Activity Professional realizes that within the first few weeks of the job. However, memory care neighborhoods are extra busy, which can sometimes make the residents, guests, and even staff members feel anxious.
Your memory care unit could feel overstimulating because of:
Overstimulation happens regularly in memory care neighborhoods because there are so many sensory elements competing for attention. If it’s enough to make you feel a bit stressed out or over-excited, imagine what it feels like for residents who live with cognitive challenges.
The environment you are in impacts your concentration and attitude. Think about it: when you need to buckle down and get things done, are you more likely to succeed in a quiet library setting or in a busy coffee shop?
Or, when you are needing an attitude adjustment after a hard day, are you more likely to feel better when sitting by yourself or when dancing around your kitchen with your toddler? While everyone is different and has different preferences, one thing is certain: your environment matters.
When seniors living with dementia or other cognitive challenges are in an environment that is too busy, too loud, or too disorganized, their brains have more difficulty processing all the extra input. Seniors with dementia can become overstimulated quickly. You may see any of these as a result:
While you can’t prevent all types of behaviors or anxiety, you can take steps to alter the environment to make it a calmer and safer one. After all, anxious behaviors (all behaviors, really) are types of communication.
Fortunately, you can make immediate changes in the environment of your senior living community’s memory care neighborhood that will make a positive impact quickly. And don’t worry - you don’t need a brand new building with all the high-tech bells and whistles to make a difference.
Your environment begins with a routine. You don’t necessarily need your neighborhood to be quiet to be calm. Instead, you can create a normal rhythm of the day that is similar to the ups and downs of your own day. Typically, your day starts out slow as you wake up, picks up speed and energy, and then slows down again to prepare for rest. Mimic this rhythm in your daily activities.
Create your daily schedule to include:
If structured routine is the foundation of creating a calm atmosphere in your memory care neighborhood, music is the next layer. You can set the tone for your community by simply selecting the right playlist.
You can play music:
Music can include:
Tips for selecting music:
Creating a calming atmosphere also involves plenty of sensory stimulation. You can incorporate any of these tactics alone, or in combination with others, in your neighborhood.
How do you create a calm atmosphere in your busy memory care neighborhood? There are so many great ideas out there that are working - let’s share them in the comments!