A study was conducted with frail seniors who live in a nursing home. During the course of the academic school year, students were assigned to visit seniors in a nursing home. The control group of seniors was allowed to select their own visiting schedule—they determined how often and when the students would be visiting. The second group was placed on a predictable pattern of visits that were predetermined—the senior did not select the visiting schedule. The third group experienced random visits that were at varying times of day and the interval between visits varied as well. The fourth group of seniors did not receive any visits at all.
The physical health and the mental well-being of seniors was assessed at four different points on a rating scale. The graphs to the right depict both the physical health and mental well-being. It is not surprising to see that health of the seniors in all groups peaked at the 10-month mark. Since the academic school year is 10 months long, the students would have been visiting the seniors long enough to develop relationships and be receiving the benefits of strong social connection. Once the school year ended and the students were no longer visiting, the health status of the seniors also began to drop.
Those seniors who received regular visits—either on a schedule that was predetermined, or a schedule of their choice—had similar results of improved health that correlated with the regular visiting structure.
The group of seniors who received random visits, however, did not see the health benefits that regular visits produce. Their health scores were nearly the same as the seniors who received no visit at all. The random schedule of occasional visiting did not provide any substantial benefit to the senior receiving the visit.
According to this study, a predictable and reliable visiting schedule is more beneficial to a resident in long term care than random visits—regardless of the frequency of those random visits.
These results could seem quite overwhelming to a caring family member. How is a modern family supposed to have time to manage a career, busy teenagers, a marriage, perhaps grandchildren, volunteering, social engagements AND a regular visiting schedule to a nursing home? It could seem completely overwhelming.
The good news is that the regular visiting doesn’t have to necessarily come from you. The study was based upon students doing the visiting, not the family members. The seniors who received regular visits experienced health benefits even when they were being visited by a student they had not previously known.
While it is wonderful to have friendly staff in a nursing home, those staff are responsible to serve all of the seniors in that ward simultaneously. Having a visitor who is dedicated to one resident at a time provides the exclusivity that is necessary for a relationship and attachment to form, allowing for health benefits to that senior.
Your loved one can experience the same health benefits and improved state of mind by having regular visits from someone who cares, a Companion Aide from Warm Embrace Elder Care. This way, you are not responsible for maintaining an onerous predictable visiting schedule, and your loved one can benefit from having a regular visitor.
If you would like to see stabilized and improved health and well-being of your loved one, please call us at: (519) 954-2480.