Challenging residents, 5 tips to keep them engaged.

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Challenging residents, 5 tips to keep them engaged.

Posted on September 24, 2012

The responsibilities and requirements of an Activity or Programming Professional go far beyond planning monthly calendars, setting up party decorations, and calling Bingo. It also requires engaging all residents and encouraging them in building positive surroundings. This can be difficult for some segments of a population.

Here are 5 frequently observed types of challenging residents and tips to help keep them engaged.

1.     Combative or Aggressive Residents
Behavioral changes are commonly found in diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, and a variety of other conditions and can often make programming challenging. One must remember that this resident is not able to comprehend the extent of their actions, and that their behaviors may be a result of an underlying problem or frustration. Try your best to find out what the problem is so you can find ways to resolve it. Be sure to keep in mind that:
·         Arguing with someone in this condition may lead nowhere.
·         Speaking calmly and trying to understand what the resident is feeling helps them feel validated.
·         Allowing them to lead the conversation helps to build a sense of trust.

2.     Providing Programs for Men
Retirement community populations tend to have more women than men which also can create challenges when planning appropriate programs. To meet the needs of the male population one can:
·         Host programs around things that men like to do such as sports (Basketball, Football, Boxing…). Try hosting game nights.
·         Plan adapted outdoor sporting events such as a men’s fishing trip or an outing to a sports bar.
·         Organize crafts or activities that focus on building or fixing things.
·         Have a male staff member or volunteer lead some of these events if possible.

3.     Providing Programs for Younger Residents
It is often difficult to address the needs of younger residents that are mentally vibrant in communities. When planning programs for this age group, an Activity Professional can:
·         Encourage them to be engaged in the program planning process.
·         Hold a meeting with your younger population and find out what programs they are interested in.
·         Assess how many would like to participate in the planning and execution of the program.
·         Give them a sense of ownership and responsibility over programs.

4.     Engaging Residents with Depression
Whether it stems from loss of independence, loss of a loved one, feeling lonely, or a medical diagnosis, depression is common within a retirement community. When focusing on engaging residents with depression try:
·         Asking family members for support and encouragement.
·         Greet them with an encouraging word, a friendly smile or a hug.
·         Compliment when possible as it helps set the mood for a more positive outlook.

5.     Engaging Residents Dealing with Anger
Whether spurred by resistance to change, loss of independence or relationships with their family, anger and resentment can cause problems for everyone if it is not harnessed. When dealing with angry residents one should never forget to:
·         Create a sense of trust
·         Listen when they speak
·         Empathize with their feelings
·         Help them find a sense of security

Also be sure to make your angry residents aware of their actions and try to hold them responsible for their actions or outbursts. Help them find constructive avenues for their anger such as beating on a drum, taking a walk outside to unwind, painting or even writing out their feelings.

Remember… happy residents make for easier jobs and happier employees!