At Hebrew SeniorLife, all of our direct care staff are trained in the “habilitation therapeutic method” when caring for clients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Habilitation was developed in 1996 by Paul Raia and Joanne Koenig-Coste of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and has been successfully implemented in a variety of care settings nation-wide.
Habilitation is a comprehensive behavioral approach focusing on the individual’s remaining abilities versus what they have lost through their illness. In contrast, rehabilitation helps a person re-learn abilities that they have lost, and attempts to improve on their limitations. Habilitation continually aims to “meet the person where they are.”
The goal of habilitation is to create and maintain a positive emotional state through the course of each day. The individual’s remaining abilities, emotions and morale are thoughtfully engaged to produce greater mental and social wellbeing. Ample opportunities for success must be created, and challenging behaviors are often reduced or eliminated.
Habilitation therapy also helps caregivers have successful interactions with residents. When each interaction or task performed for or with the resident, and every aspect of the environment around the resident, is thoughtfully selected or adjusted, the resident-provider relationship is strengthened. Habilitation can be applied in almost any setting, and can be learned by family, friends and professionals alike.
There are 5 “Domains” of Habilitation Therapy:
Physical Environment—adapting the physical environment to foster independence, yet meet the social and emotional needs of each resident. We know that the environment can affect one’s mood and comfort, can be confusing or difficult to understand for the person with dementia. The physical environment should limit unnecessary distractions.
Communication—refocusing, redirecting and recognizing use of the resident’s body language to express needs vs. verbal communication. The caregiver also takes note of their body language and other non-verbal means of communication.
Purposeful Engagement—structured, failure-free, meaningful activities throughout the day help the individual to hold on to capabilities longer and maintain positive emotion. Research shows that well-planned activities can reduce boredom and challenging behaviors in persons with dementia.
Behavior as Communication—focus away from changing the individual’s challenging behaviors, but on changing the caregiver’s approach to care, or the physical environment.
Approach to Personal Care—encouraging independence in activities of daily living and prioritizing which activities are most important for the individual. Daily care is simplified and broken down into achievable steps. It is not just getting the job done—it involves engagement with the individual and promoting a sense of success with each task.
Memory Care at Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles
NewBridge on the Charles offers the Gilda and Alfred A. Slifka Memory Care Assisted Living Residences to seniors with early stage and mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease and/or a related dementia. The Memory Care Assisted Living Residences at NewBridge on the Charles provides a personalized and meaningful assisted living experience for residents based on the history, preferences and goals of each individual. Short-term stays now available.