Leading By Example: Bathing, Eating in Comfort

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The Jewish Home of Los Angeles conducted extensive research prior to building its own very progressive dementia care facility. Molly Forrest, CEO & President, shares implementations that made the most impact at her facility.

The bathing experience

"We treat bathing as a relaxing activity rather than a chore," says Forrest. She describes the bathing area as feeling "very residential." Ocean sounds play in the background and oversized windows let in natural light. Forrest says that the goal is to provide a comfortable and familiar experience within a structure that supports residents' needs.

"We accommodate residents' practices and patterns so they can have a shower or bath when they want," she says.

Because showers and bathtubs in residents' rooms can be problematic (residents sometimes forget that they turn on the water, leading to falls), the Jewish Home elected to create a private bathing area separate from residents' rooms.

More than an apple a day

Forrest says it's not just about the quality of the calories that residents consume — quantity is also essential.

"If you're able to feed a resident three meals a day, great; but if it's only a thousand calories, they're still going to lose weight. So we put in a café and we bake bread or cookies daily. The smell reminds them of home, and interests them in eating. Newspapers and magazines help make it feel like a familiar activity."

Nutritional snacks are always available, and convenient, too. Each floor has three nourishment stations.

Specialized activities

Forrest calls music therapy "ideal" for residents who are severely affected by dementia.

"They move with the music and sing the songs that they know. Fred Astaire movies are a big favorite."

Small group activities get residents focused and involved.

In fact, the building was specifically designed to shade the patio areas to promote comfortable year-round usage of hands-on gardens.