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Early bird, night owls need flexible meeting times

10 September 2010
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times - September 2010

I remember lining up for early-bird specials when vacationing in Florida with my parents. While we were not accustomed to late-night dining, my parents chose to eat still earlier than usual to take advantage of reduced prices offered by restaurants.

In senior residences, these choices are often taken away. Many adult children voice their dismay when learning their parent is served dinner at 5 or 5:30 p.m. When they question this practice, they might be told it is because of staff issues, that residents prefer go to sleep early or that it works best in the overall management of the residence.

For residents who like to stay up late, this can be a difficult adjustment. If dinner is finished by 6 p.m., it makes for a very long evening. If no activities are offered after dinner and if residents prepare for bed at 7, some fall asleep early because they are bored and then rise before the sun. Others might get restless or agitated.

If there is only one breakfast time and it is before the resident normally wakes up, this could also lead to agitation. While we understand the need for scheduling in large and small residences, we want the routines of our loved ones respected. In a person-centered-care approach, the schedules are adjusted to suit individuals as much as possible.

Some terms used for this type of care are “person centered,” “resident focused,” “patient centered” and “individualized care.” This approach focuses on the uniqueness of each person even as their abilities decline. It emphasizes the patient making choices whenever possible in their daily lives.

The information gathered by the residence prior to the move is telling. If there is interest in the history and lifestyle of the person, often there will be attention to individual needs and matching to services to the person. Frequency and time of showering should be investigated.

Many individuals will gradually adapt to the style of living in the residence and sometimes adult children are more upset during this transition phase than their parent. For loved ones, working through the move to a care facility involves adjusting to the stages of the disease. Anger and sadness manifest in different ways, including being upset about new routines that do not allow for choices.

When we are capable of making our own decisions we do so, but when one no longer has the capacity to make these decisions, family members should try to select a care facility that they feel best matches their loved one’s lifestyle. In an ideal world, each resident would be able to continue with their chosen lifelong habits.

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Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775