While many new medical conditions accompany aging, Highgate Senior Living set out as an organization to identify how a holistic care approach contributes to the overall well-being, quality of life, and sense of purpose of its residents. Holistic health, which takes into consideration psychological, physical and social needs, seeks to identify alternatives to medicating residents when appropriate. While there is a time and place for medications, Highgate is committed to identifying ways to support their residents holistically first.
What are the benefits of a holistic care program?
Holistic care can be used if medicine fails to provide the relief in treating a condition, or as an alternative to needing medication with certain medical conditions. As seniors age, the body tolerates and responds differently to medications than it used to. The elderly become more vulnerable to the adverse effects from medication use, and coupled with a significant increase in medications taken to manage age-related diseases, seeing the benefits of medication use can be blurred by the side effects that come with it.
Holistic Care Techniques
While holistic care can include many different facets, here are four elements of a holistic care program that have benefits specifically with older adults.
Meditation has many benefits. It can relieve stress, help alleviate pain, and more. Now, there’s evidence that meditation may be of particular benefit to individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In a study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, researchers found that the effects of stress reduction found in meditation may also slow Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Aromatherapy is the use of natural oils to enhance well-being. It’s become a trusted tool, used at major healthcare systems across the U.S such as Fairview Health Services and Cleveland Clinic. At Highgate, uses include reducing anxiety and pain, and promoting appetite and sleep.
While having pets improves quality of life in general, this is doubly true for seniors. Most have lost many friends and family members, sometimes even a spouse. Pets can provide companionship and love unconditionally. Pets can also ease anxiety and improve mood. With a pet depending on them – whether for care, affection, or both – seniors can have a renewed sense of purpose.
Massage therapy, like meditation, can ease the signs and symptoms of many disorders, including Alzheimer’s and osteoarthritis. There is a large body of research, particularly in nursing literature, on massage therapy and Alzheimer's disease. A study using slow-stroke back massage found that physical expressions of agitation such as pacing, wandering and resisting were decreased when slow-stroke massage was applied.
Mind, Body and Spirit: Examples of Highgate’s use of Holistic Care
Beginning with aromatherapy and spa baths that offer relaxing foot massages, Highgate’s holistic care program has evolved into a way of life for the team members at its communities. Care partners are trained to identify alternative ways to redirect memory care residents, or support assisted living residents with chronic disorders. “Staff members get to know the residents by identifying what aromas help with calming or sleep. We use music therapy by playing music from their childhood, which helps with improved appetite and also improves sleep,” says Megan Wilson, Community Relations Coordinator at Highgate at Billings.
Spiritual well-being contributes to holistic health
Spirituality involves exploring the desire for purpose, meaning and an interconnection with others. At Highgate at Bellingham, a care team member saw an opportunity to reconnect two lifelong friends. As a childhood friend of Loretta Lynn, one of the residents in Bellingham loved to share stories about growing up with her.
After hearing about the resident’s memories, one of the caregivers wrote a letter to Loretta explaining a resident lived in Bellingham that Loretta shared a childhood with. Shortly after the caregiver received a call about the letter, after many calls back and forth communicating about the letter, the resident received a call from her childhood friend, Loretta. The caregiver went above and beyond her job description to bring joy to her resident.
Highgate Senior Living puts your loved one first by taking the time to get to know your loved one and providing them with the highest quality care through holistic techniques.
Caregivers go above and beyond their normal duties to ensure your loved one is healthy not just physically, but in mind and spirit as well by seeking opportunities to create memorable moments and enhance the lives of its residents every way. Whether decreasing the need for certain medications, re-kindling old friendships, or offering a pet-friendly environment, holistic health is a way of life at Highgate.