Therapeutic recreation is a systematic process that makes use of recreational programs, leisure education, and activities to meet the needs and interests of persons with illnesses as means of wellbeing, recovery and physical health as well as psychological health (Austin, Dattilo & McCormick, 2002). Therapeutic therapy helps to address the restoration of health maintenance, function, and psychosocial competence as well as in reducing the risk factors of illness occurrence. This therapy is mostly used in nursing homes when taking care of the older adults with mental health illnesses. Some of the interventions that come with therapeutic therapy are activities that help promote social skills, self-expression, cognitive and sensory stimulation activities, among other programs that improve the daily functioning and living of the older adults. It also involves therapy programs that aim at reducing the psychiatric and behavioral function of the elderly in the nursing homes.
Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home is one of the facilities in New York City that takes care of the elderly. Some of the mental health stressors that I observed in this nursing home for the elderly were cognitive impairments, dementia, depression, paranoia, and anxiety among others. To help the elderly to cope with these mental health stressors, recreational therapy is one program that can be used in this nursing home. Some of the interventions of therapeutic therapy that nurses can deploy in the home include exercises, fitness, and cognitive and sensory stimulation programs among others. These programs are geared towards reducing the psychiatric symptoms of the illnesses as well as the behavioral symptoms.
According to de Souto Barreto et al. (2016) older persons with the mental health stressors can benefit from therapeutic recreation if properly incorporated into their environment. In Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home, for example, the elderly especially those with cognitive impairments can benefit from the therapeutic programs by increasing their alertness levels, improved behaviors, increased activity as well as using fewer psychotropic medications. These improvements are also geared towards improving the mental functioning of the older persons in the nursing home. The elderly in Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home can also be encouraged and allowed to participate in artistic, expressive, social and nature-based therapy programs that will help in increasing their relationships with others, and also in reducing their levels of loneliness. The effect of this can result in improved satisfaction on visitations and increased involvement with the people close to them. Other benefits include decreased levels of depression, improved morale, perception and verbal interactions as well as personal competence and control.
For recreational therapy to have an impact on Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home if the programs are administered in an array of settings. As the types of persons and their needs in the nursing home change, so should the therapeutic recreational activities. The nursing home can offer individualized therapeutic activities that will also supplement the general activity calendar of the institution. These activities should be smaller and be developed to meet the needs of the elderly in the nursing home. More emphasis can also be placed on the nurses who help with the therapeutic programs in the nursing home. The older adults with dementia can be assisted in a better way by having specialized programs that provide the stimulation and the right challenge that will help them control their difficult behaviors as well as maintain their function (Gitlin, Hodgson and Choi, 2016).
Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home can also consider providing programs that help the client prevent further complications that can arise due to their mental health stressors. Nurses who are trained to conduct the recreational therapy sessions can assess the patients using their medical records, information from family members, observations as well as the use of standardized assessments. Afterward, they can develop a therapeutic activity that best suits that individual according to their interests and needs. An example is that the nurse can encourage the patient that have poor social skills, or those who isolate from others to play games with other patients. The nurses can also instruct the elderly to get involved in relaxation activities that will reduce depression and tension. Such exercises might include limbering and stretching, team activities, pacing, and other energy conservation activities. During the leisure activities, the therapists can then observe the progress, participation, and reactions of each older adult. In the process, the therapist is also able to develop specific recreational activities that suit a particular mental health stressor that can be employed in the next patient that visits the nursing home. The therapeutic interventions can also create opportunities to the elderly for fun, mental stimulation, exercises, and creativity.
In summary, Therapeutic recreational therapy can, therefore, be used to improve the care given to the elderly in Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home. If Williamsbridge Manor Nursing Home incorporates this program, the management will be required to ensure that there is teamwork and trained workers. In cases where the elderly seek short-term services, the nursing home should offer hourly therapeutic programs so that the elderly who wish to go home learn how to adapt to their recreational interests that best suit their illness. The therapy can only be effective when therapeutic relationship is incorporated in the recreational therapy. Such relationship includes empathy, having a caring attitude and having respect and positive regard for clients. This will, in turn, make the nursing home a success as it will be able to meet its vision and mission.
Austin, D. R., Dattilo, J., & McCormick, B. P. (2002). Conceptual foundations for therapeutic recreation. State College, Pa: Venture Pub.
de Souto Barreto, P., Morley, J. E., Chodzko-Zajko, W., Pitkala, K. H., Weening-Djiksterhuis, E., Rodriguez-Manas, L., ... & Izquierdo, M. (2016). Recommendations on physical activity and exercise for older adults living in long-term care facilities: A taskforce report. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 17(5), 381-392.
Gitlin, L. N., Hodgson, N. A., & Choi, S. S. W. (2016). Home-based interventions targeting persons with dementia: what is the evidence and where do we go from here?. In Dementia Care (pp. 167-188). Springer International Publishing.
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