The quality of life of the elderly is also associated with external factors surrounding the individual. In order to promote healthy aging, lifestyle, genetics, but also the environment matter. In this article we give some tips for choosing the best retirement home for the elderly.
The broadening of the definition of quality of life arises with the aim of improving it beyond or above certain limits. Therefore, the fact that a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease should not adversely affect their quality of life or prevent them from improving it by taking advantage of the resources at their disposal.
In this sense, if a person with osteoarthritis does not have adapted taps in the bathroom or kitchen, his dependence will be greater, consequently his quality of life will be lower. In fact, we are convinced that one of the fundamental pillars to feel good is the degree of autonomy.
For this reason, and for the impact that the environment has on autonomous and active aging, it becomes essential to choose an adequate retirement home that can fully satisfy the needs of those who live there.
Evaluation system for choosing the retirement home for the elderly person
There are several methods for assessing the quality of a nursing home. Both contextual and individual clues need to be considered.
The calculation or score obtained is a good indicator of the level of the retirement home under examination. Below you will find a list of factors considered discriminating.
Architectural and physical features: the building
With reference to the physical and architectural aspects, the best retirement home will be the one that includes the following components:
- Community accessibility : inclusion of the neighboring community and its services in the life of the individual. That is, can the elderly person living in the nursing home walk to a store? Is there a bus stop near the residence?
- Physical comfort : refers to the attractiveness and comfort provided by the facilities. Does the residence protect from the rain? Are the walls of the building decorated and painted?
- Socio-recreational aids : elements that favor socialization and enjoyment of free time. Are there tables for playing cards? Are there any comfortable sofas to sit and talk?
- Staff rooms : places where nursing home workers can be comfortable. In this regard, we must not forget the enormous rates of depression found among nurses and staff in nursing homes.
- Prosthetic aids : all those elements of the building that favor the physical independence and mobility of the subject; that is, not needing a caregiver for tasks that they can do on their own, but that the architecture of the building itself does not usually favor. Is it possible to enter the building without climbing the stairs? Are there handrails in the corridors so that a caregiver is not needed to move between the rooms?
- Security Features : Fostering independence does not mean being negligent. Does anyone check the bathrooms at night? And the access to the building?
- Orientation aids: eminently visual aids that facilitate orientation for residents. It is important that people always know where they are and that they can stay in control. For example, large signs and writings in bright colors are a good idea.
- Space availability : i.e. the capacity of community areas in relation to the number of residents, in order to avoid overcrowding.
Organization of the nursing home: this is not a school
Once you have chosen the best retirement home based on its architectural structure, it is time to observe the organization within the residence.
This refers to control, clarity of rules and privacy. As regards the organization of the structure, some of the aspects to be evaluated are:
- Tolerance towards deviant behavior : it is one of the most important factors. Today there is a lot of tolerance because the myth of low competition is linked to that of high sympathy. Are aggressive, provocative or destructive behaviors allowed? For example, can the elderly refuse to wash?
- Privacy : Can residents lock their rooms? Are there single rooms? It is important, as far as possible, to promote independence and privacy.
- Expectations of operation : depending on its characteristics, the residence will be more or less suitable for the subject. It refers to the level of functioning that the elderly must maintain in the activities of daily life: is he expected to eat alone? Are you not expected to suffer from incontinence?
- Organizational choice : refers to the elder’s decision-making power: can he choose what to eat? Is it possible to drink wine or beer? Is there a curfew?
- Availability of health services : provision of health and care services. Is there an infirmary? Are there any rehabilitation services?
Social climate: are we friends?
Equally relevant will be the social climate of an environment formed by the people who inhabit it, both for the elderly and for nurses and other employees. To measure the social climate of a nursing home, factors such as:
- Cohesion : Analyzes how employees help and support residents, as well as the relationship between seniors themselves: Do seniors receive psychological support from employees? Do they receive personalized care?
- Conflict : Measures the degree of conflict, disapproval, or criticism of the elderly. Can they express themselves freely? Are there many complaints inside the residence?
- Independence : analyzes the degree to which residents are encouraged to be independent and to make decisions. Are there any activities organized by the elderly? Do they participate, for example, in preparing meals?
- Expressiveness : Refers to the degree to which residents can express themselves openly and deal with their problems and feelings.
Conclusions: choosing the best retirement home for the elderly
The social climate is the variable that most influences the behavior of the individual. In turn, it affects variables that are found at different levels: physical, cognitive, emotional, etc.
In an inadequate social climate, personal attacks are constant and prevent the resolution of conflicts that occur within a peaceful coexistence. All of this is extremely harmful in a semi-enclosed environment such as that of a retirement home.
The ideal would be to promote high levels of cohesion, independence and expressiveness. In this sense, a positive social climate plays a particularly important role in the phase of adaptation to the residence, to the new environment.
Unfortunately, retirement homes are often places forgotten by society. Points towards which you do not want to look, thinking that the elderly are people who no longer want anything from life or who cannot offer a contribution.
This is especially sad when you consider that a person’s quality of life, and their mood, improves dramatically when they feel useful, regardless of the year of birth.