When you think about nursing homes, what comes to mind? For most people, the thoughts don’t tend to be happy ones. We don’t generally think of a place where residents are thriving and life is enjoyable. Especially in this past year, thoughts and realities about nursing homes have been far more disheartening and sad than anything else. Senior citizens have been among the most isolated since the COVID pandemic. Eighteen percent of suicides are among senior citizens. That’s a higher percentage rate than among any other demographic. Besides that, isolation can be a serious medical problem, not just an emotional one. Loneliness can have a huge impact on a person’s health risks. For example, loneliness increases the risk of mortality by 400%. The risk of hospitalization by 58%, and the risk of dementia by 50%.
Often a poor quality of life isn’t due to lack of care from staff or lack of care from family and friends of residents. Both staff, residents, and their families often feel that there are simply not enough solutions available. Solutions to the problems of depression, loneliness, and a general lack of health that many seniors face in nursing homes. Does this mean there’s just no hope? Of course not.
The Latter Years Don’t Have to be the Unhappiest Years
Many of the answers to the issues faced by nursing homes and residents may be found in emerging technologies. Residents are able to utilize things like FaceTime and Zoom, like the rest of us to battle isolation. But there are also some high-tech therapies and medical advances that are giving new hope for the future.
One of the biggest goals for new nursing home tech is to return independence to residents so that they are able to return home. Beyond that, technologies are helping to tackle the areas of care collaboration between staff and residents, more opportunities for socialization, and a greater ability to create a home-like environment. New in-house dialysis sees a 94% reduction in vascular infections; the Solo-Step rehabilitation harness helps residents to build strength and confidence for faster mobility, and neuro rehab virtual reality functions like a game and helps stroke and brain injury patients to recover faster.
These new technologies are giving a renewed hope for a better quality of life and a brighter future for nursing home care. Facing the latter years of life doesn’t have to mean facing the most unhappy years of life.