Stock senior health caretaker

Companionship is an irreplaceable experience for many that fosters feelings of love and inclusion. Although many of them live alone, residents in senior living facilities can benefit greatly from receiving visitors such as family members and friends.

Jessica Kulczycki, community life and CARE director and Cindy Struk, vice president of health services and chief clinical officer, both at Judson in Cleveland; and Ben Shepherd, memory care adviser at Arden Courts of Bath in Akron; gave insight into the importance of friends and loved ones visiting seniors.

Having visitors is “very important,” Kulczycki said.

“It helps to stimulate their mind, their mental health,” she explained. “The increased socialization, having that connection with others, just helps to improve their overall wellbeing and how they’re feeling their emotions.”

Kulczycki described the physiological benefits, saying that when a person is happy or engaged with people they like, there are a lot of good neurotransmitters in their bodies that help them stay healthy.

“It’s like when you think of over the weekend, when you were at parties or seeing friends, you feel better,” she said. “You don’t think about other things that might hurt you.”

Kulczycki mentioned these encounters produce epinephrine, which also helps people’s physical health.

Celebrating birthdays and holidays, going for walks, bonding over art pieces or reading together are some of the common activities seniors and their loved ones do together during their visits, Kulczycki pointed out.

Struk added family members sometimes bring pets with them, some of which the residents had to give up upon moving into senior care.

She noted some family members are too far away to visit their senior loved ones in person, so staff members might help set up virtual get-togethers between them.

“Sometimes their family is not here or able to visit,” she said. “We’ll try to do face-to-face via Zoom or some other media.”

Struk further mentioned residents from Judson’s assisted living quarters sometimes volunteer to visit with residents in the memory care section.

“It’s good for both the family and for the resident,” Shepherd said.

No matter where a resident is in the progression of their disease, they can feel love and companionship when being around family and friends, he explained.

“It’s very good for the family, as well, to come in and be able to visit and relax and enjoy their loved one, even though they’re suffering from this disease,” he said.

Activities seniors and their visitors enjoy include live music, arts and crafts, painting and hands-on projects, Shepherd said.

Interaction and engagement are vital, he mentioned.

“Interaction is the biggest thing,” he elaborated. “We’re about interacting and being social. We’re big on engagement. We want to engage with them. We want them, the residents, to engage with us. Everything is built around engagement, interaction and being social.”

Shepherd said these interactions sometimes serve as distractions to seniors, taking them away from the stresses of ailments.

“It redirects them,” Shepherd said. “When you keep the residents social and you keep them interacting and you keep them busy, it helps them to be redirected from things that might cause them any kind of ill-thinking, any kind of stress, fear, anxiety.”

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