Meaningful, Enjoyable, and Doable: Optimizing Older Adults’ Activity Engagement at Home

 

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Abstract

In addition to being able to live safely at home, when facing declining physical or cognitive abilities it remains important to all people to have a sense of purpose—something to do—in their everyday lives. Meaningful and enjoyable leisure pursuits can fulfill this need. This article reviews some of the benefits associated with home-based leisure pursuits for community dwelling older adults living with chronic health conditions. Selective Optimization with Compensation (SOC) theory and the Needs Driven Dementia Compromised Behavior (NDB) model are reviewed to provide a framework for Aging Life Care Professionals™ / geriatric care managers to support continued activity engagement in the face of declining abilities associated with dementia. Practical suggestions are provided to guide processes of assessment, planning, and implementation related to optimizing older adults’ activity engagement at home.

Introduction

Just over six months ago my brothers and I moved my mother into an independent living facility because she could no longer manage to live alone in her home. Mom was devastated (“I’ve lived here for the last 26 years”), confused, and scared. While much of the confusion was because of progressing cognitive decline associated with dementia, some of her confusion was also because things were happening around her that she couldn’t fully understand. In the year leading to this move and in the months since, I have reflected at length on what I — as someone who studies successful aging — could have done differently to have prevented (or at least prolonged) this move. Unfortunately I live fully across Canada, over 4500 kilometers away from my mom. Yet, had I had the right understanding or information, my hunch is that a different trajectory may have been possible. As I’ve come to learn more about the role of an Aging Life Care Professional / care manager (a role I was unaware of until recently) I can see how intervention “early enough” by an Aging Life Care Professional™ /  care manager could have mitigated many of the risks that led to mom’s unwanted move from her home.  Hindsight is wonderful.

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