There was an interesting report on Channel ten’s “The Project” recently. The report showed aged care residents with Alzheimer’s regaining cognitive awareness when introduced to children. It is a very creative way in which a level of independence is restored to the residents.

This type of innovative thinking should be at the forefront of all aged care home practices as it creates a self-sufficiency that is crucial to a resident’s wellbeing.

“What you might not know is that independence is also an essential quality for older people to maintain, as it allows them to stay engaged in the activities that are important to them despite some of the disabilities that come with the natural ageing process,” states Kirana , an employee of the Registered Training Organisation.

 Beyond allowing residences to make their own decisions about what they buy, how they spend their time and allowing them to set up their rooms as they would in their own homes, there are more creative ways to give residents their independence.

1. Provide access to technology. According to Kirana, certain technologies and aids can be used in the home to help people to live alone for a longer period of time. This includes things like weighted cups for those with Parkinson’s disease, or smartphone alarms that can remind someone when it is time to take their medication.

2. Design goal oriented experiences. According to Dr Maggie Haertsch executive director and CEO of the Arts Health Institute via australianageingagenda.com.au states carers should “try starting a conversation in your aged care service by asking elders three simple things:

o   What did you like to do with friends?

o   What do you like to do to have fun?

o   If you would like to do anything now, what would that be?

With that information, design experiences that are goal orientated look at the hidden talents of your team and consider ways to build friendship groups based on shared interests. These groups can range from reading groups, singing and art making groups. Design everyday strategies to incorporate being more creative with those in your service and within your team.” (via australianageingagenda.com.au)

3. Help them start a blog. Senior citizens need a voice just as much, if not more, than anyone else. If given the opportunity to express themselves and perhaps a few lessons in computer use, they will likely have a lot to say, and it is even more likely that what they say will be relevant to a whole new audience.