Friday, August 7, 2020

What Counts as a Meaningful One-to-One Visit?


As a caregiver, family member, activity professional, or direct care provider, have you ever wondered if your care or one-to-one visits were meaningful enough to produce the best health outcomes for your patient or resident? For over a century, epidemiological studies have found a link between social isolation and morbidity and mortality. According to Cacioppo, Capitanio, and Cacioppo (2014), the social control hypothesis suggests that socialization promotes better health behaviors and reduces morbidity and mortality. However, it is essential to note that interactions with others can be warm, gratifying, or harsh and rushed. When ADL visits or one-to-one visits are harsh and rushed or impersonal, and without empathy, the patient's perception of loneliness amid human interaction may increase feelings of social isolation (Cacioppo, Capitanio & Cacioppo, 2014). Therefore, a patient can feel isolated and lonely, even with caregivers and family, or when residing in a facility if interactions with others are impersonal and without a positive social relationship.-Dr. Stewart


Cacioppo, S., Capitanio, J. P., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2014). Toward a neurology of loneliness. Psychological Bulletin, 140(6), 1464–1504.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

COVID-19: Caregivers Soften Your Eyes

93% of all communication is nonverbal, and some of those nonverbals are universally recognized as indicated by the above image. When caring for COVID-19 patients, it is essential to take into consideration the psychosocial wellness of the patient. Without the nuances of nonverbal communication hidden under the mask, patients may mirror the tension, fear, and other behavioral responses of the caregiver that is perceived by the patient through the caregiver's eyes. Soften your eyes and blink your eyes gently and randomly during care. If you are spiritual and have personal beliefs of love and kindness, practice expressing those virtues through your eyes to calm yourself and your patient.

-Dr. Stewart Psy.D

Sunday, March 29, 2020

COVID-19 and Bedside Manner

Caregivers working with COVID-19 patients may find it difficult to deliver care calmly and reassuringly. Research indicates that some approaches reveal that certain emotions might be helpful to calm both the patient and the caregiver.  For example, universal and cultural recognition of facial expressions and emotions show similar findings regarding smiling. Over 90% of humans recognize a smile as happiness and an opportunity to experience positive emotions and feelings of safety. When health care workers wear personal protection equipment that shields the full facial recognition of emotions, the patient can still process a smile through the expression of the caregiver's eyes. Also, when the caregiver smiles, there are personal benefits such as the brain's release of feel-good neurotransmitters that reduces stress and relaxes the body. In a radiant appearance of emotion, the eyes soften and move with the smile under the mask. Another way to help a person feel safe and calm is the tone of your voice. Numerous studies support that the tone of the voice can set the mood of interpersonal interaction.  Art Linkletter interviewed a group of five-year-olds and asked them how do they know if someone loves them. One five-year-old stated, "I know that someone loves me when my name is safe in their mouth." As a caregiver, amid a global pandemic, take pause, and smile with your eyes, and say your patient's name in a manner that they feel safe and calm.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Beyond the COVID-19 Skype Meet-and-Greet with the Elderly

Giftedness across the lifespan includes the elderly population. In long-term care, we conduct personal resident assessments that include personal interests from a lifetime of exploration and also, successes and failures. The interdisciplinary team then evaluates the resident, for both the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. When creating a plan for the resident to adapt and to thrive in the long-term care setting, we must remember to reveal and nurture the embedded giftedness that occurs in the remaining strengths and the adaptation of the losses of the resident. According to Horowitz, Subotnik, and Matthews (2009), the psychosocial variables to identify giftedness in the aging population are social intelligence, self-regulation, creativity, and wisdom.

During the COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements, we are focusing on virtual one to one visits with the elderly. However, we should keep in mind that it is essential to build upon and utilize the abilities and giftedness of the individual regarding social intelligence, self-regulation, creativity, and wisdom.

Horowitz, F., Subotnik, R., & Matthews, D. (2009). The development and giftedness and talent across the life span. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Pain Hangover

Residents or family members living with chronic pain may experience pain hangovers when the pain subsides or when pain is better managed. Patient attitudes and beliefs about pain treatment and pain medication administration may vary when the pain subsides. For example, patients may refuse pain medication for fear of addiction and may try to endure lower levels of pain without therapeutic pain intervention.

Pain hangovers after a significant pain event may leave some patients too exhausted to return to their regular routines, or they may have trouble pacing themselves and try to do too much too soon. As a caregiver or activity professional, it is essential to recognize the after-effects of intermittent pain relief and connect with the interdisciplinary team and discuss the pain event and history to better gauge the assistance and educational intervention that may be needed after an exhausting chronic pain event. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Meaningful Life for the Resident In Long-Term Care

Dr. Debra Stewart

Positive psychology and empowerment theories have embraced the significance of a meaningful life, which means that humans should strive to live fully and by following their values, and what brings them to a state of awe. The argument is that when people live meaningful lives, they become happier. But in today's society, how long can we live a meaningful life? For example, when an older adult is admitted to long-term care, the interdisciplinary team gathers to understand the history and physical of the resident and what artifacts of their lives are meaningful enough to continue within a variety of adapted ways. However, what we value as meaningful changes across the lifespan because personal and public advocacy issues are resolved with time or given to others to take charge. To help a resident continue a meaningful life throughout the aging and dying process, seek to help them connect to their current values and what inspires them to a state of awe rather than trying to replicate their most challenging past.