Marian Grunwald, Earl Elfstrom and Verna Matheson (left to right) bounced a balloon back and forth with nursing assistant Rick Pavlisich on Dec. 13, 2013 at an Ecumen nursing home in Chisago City, Minn. Photo Credit: Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune, Minneapolis St. Paulvia NPR
Activity staffer Jessica Abbott, of Pathstone Living, a nursing home and memory care facility in Mankato, MN, is responsible for making sure patients at Pathstone have easy and natural access to activities that are both soothing and mentally stimulating.
Small comforts like making apple crisp while listening to music help calm patients and give them something relaxing and meaningful to do. These planned activities have also allowed Pathstone to reduce the number of patients taking antipsychotics--drugs the FDA says can increase the risk of death for people with Alzheimer's and dementia.
With their unique program called Awakenings, Pathstone was able to reduce its antipsychotic drug use among patients by 97 percent within one year.
Shelley Matthes, a registered nurse working for the nonprofit Ecumen, which runs Pathstone, says the changes in Pathstone's residents were as dramatic as the antipsychotic reduction itself.
"'They started interacting,' recalls Matthes, 'and people who hadn't been speaking were speaking. They came alive and awakened.'" (source)
Read more: This Nursing Home Calms Troubling Behavior Without Risky Drugs