Aging in place has become a hot topic among senior housing and care organizations. While some are looking to capitalize on the market through home care and home health agencies, others are rolling out their own programs — and getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding to do so.
One such organization is New York-based Jewish Home Lifecare, one of the country’s largest nonprofit geriatric health and rehabilitation institutions, which recently received more than $500,000 in grants to help seniors age in place.
A $282,500 grant from the New York State Department of Health will fund an overnight respite pilot program called “Night Care” for sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of severe dementia. Another $221,712 will fund enhanced out-patient rehabilitation services for seniors who want to regain loss of physical function caused by medical conditions.
The objective of both initiatives is to enable seniors to remain at home, either permanently or for as long as possible.
“There is a growing preference among older adults with Alzheimer’s, moderate-to-severe dementia and other physical and cognitive challenges, and their families, to age at home — either in their own houses, with their families or in aging-in-place communities,” Susan Holodak, Jewish Home’s vice president of Day Care, who is overseeing both programs, tells SHN.
The first Night Care program launched this week at Mamaroneck’s Sarah Neuman Center, Jewish Home’s Westchester campus. From 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., the program will offer a safe, comfortable and soothing environment for people with dementia, according to the organization.
Beginning twice a week with two patients and growing to three times a week with 31, a staff of nurses, aides and recreation therapists trained to work with dementia patients will engage them in music, art and aroma therapy.
These activities, in particular, have been shown to help stave off the restlessness, disorientation, depression, anxiety and verbal or physical aggression, collectively known as “sundowning,” in dementia patients at night.
“Sundowning makes sleep challenging for both patient and caregiver, especially when the caregiver is a family member who works outside the home or has other responsibilities during the day,” Holodak says. “Not being able to get a good night’s sleep can make it impossible for such caregivers to function. Night Care answers that problem.”
The second grant will go toward the creation of enhanced out-patient rehabilitation services at Jewish Home’s Manhattan Adult Day Health program.
Physical, occupational and speech therapists will help older adults with certain conditions or disorders — or who have had brain or spinal-cord injuries or strokes — regain as much of their previous functionality as possible in hopes of increasing their independence and enabling them to remain in their homes.
An additional physical therapist and occupational therapist will be added to Jewish Home’s existing rehabilitation staff, which will create a customized therapy plan for each client.
“Falls are the primary reason for hospitalization among the elderly population, and hospitalization often leads to nursing home placement,” Holodak says. “The enhancements to the rehabilitation services offered as part of the Manhattan campus’ Adult Day Program – enhanced balance training, strengthening, and therapies focused on improved mobility – will address that by helping older people remain at home.”
Written by Emily Study