The American Health Care Association (AHCA) chose the theme of “Fulfilling the Promise” for National Nursing Home Week May 8-14, 2011. According to the AHCA planning guide, part of this Promise is a focus on the whole person. Psychologists help fulfill this Promise every day, by addressing the emotional aspects of illness in addition to maintaining an awareness of medical concerns.
The AHCA planning guide suggests:
- Emphasize how you tend to the spirit: Psychologists often address spiritual concerns as part of the psychotherapy.
- Help spread the message that “It’s not your grandmother’s nursing home anymore”: Contrary to the popular belief that older adults find talking to a psychologist stigmatizing, I’ve had very few refusals of treatment based on this, and the new cohort of residents is actively seeking out mental health services.
- Explain that long term care is increasingly about “going home” rather than “staying longer”: A frequent focus of psychological treatment is reducing depression and anxiety, and making the most of the opportunity for rehabilitation in the early days after admission. This increases the likelihood residents will be able to return to their homes.