‘Okie El’ rocks out, and then veges out

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


‘Okie El’ rocks out, and then veges out

Given that the bulk of my prior knowledge of Oklahoma came from a 72-year-old musical performed by my class during grade school, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived in Norman for the 2015 Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers/Oklahoma Assisted Living Association conference.

The upshot (based on the journey between the airport and the hotel): No fringed surries. Plenty of flat, open, grassy expanses. Chain stores. A bustling well-run conference. Animated conversations with attendees invested in providing enhanced care for their residents. Life-altering products in the Expo Hall.

Younger adults in senior living

I was invited for two talks, the first of which was on younger adults in senior care. The group focused on ideas for handling the challenges of younger residents, from those with illnesses such as ALS or spina bifida to people who led rough lifestyles prior to the disabling injuries (e.g. gunshot wounds) that led to placement in long-term care.

The talk addressed the emotional reactions caregivers have toward younger residents that can make it more difficult to work with them than with the typical older population. It also got into ways of unifying the team through training and policies, and strategies to engage younger residents in positive activities.

As I wrote in this 2008 article, meeting the needs of our younger residents now will help prepare our facilities for the differing expectations of the coming Baby Boom generation.

Addressing mental health in LTC

My second presentation focused on the need to address mental health problems in long-term care. Not a week goes by without a news story about a behavioral health problem in one of our facilities, such as an assault by a resident on a peer or staff member.

I offered a three-tiered model for addressing mental health care as part of our general healthcare. None of the three tiers — engaging mental health professionals, creating a healing emotional environment, and improving customer service — cost anything more than staff training and increasing the priority paid to behavioral health issues. Well worth it to avoid being the next facility with a negative news headline.

Rocking the expo hall

Between talks, I visited the expo hall in search of exhibits that offered solutions for my residents.

The first thing that caught my eye was the mod-looking geri-recliner.

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‘Okie El’ rocks out, and then veges out


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