A senior helping a young boy play the guitar.

“Most people feel satisfaction and fulfillment when giving their time and attention for the benefit of others.” For nursing home residents, this can be a hard feat to achieve. Often, residents of short and long term care are focused on recovery, wellness goals, and other health concerns. This often can lead to not feeling fulfilled. Long-term care centers have been working on helping residents find and enhance the meaning of their lives.

Long-term and post-acute care residents have lived a long life, and they have a lot to offer the community if the providers can facilitate and foster these opportunities. An important aspect of helping residents give back is to focus on their strengths and abilities. A resident could share their knowledge about a career path they took, or maybe they have a talent for floral arrangements. If providers and caregivers understand their resident’s strengths and abilities, it can help them find specific and personal ways the residents can give back. When these opportunities are found and executed, it helps residents have a greater purpose, and it improves their social, mental, and emotional health.

Many long-term care facilities are seeing improvement in the effectiveness of the treatment when their patients and residents have a better quality of life. Long term and post-acute care centers have been participating in bake sales, bazaars, craft shows, and collections of various items. Having a wide array of activities really allows each resident to showcase their specific talents and skills, and after funds are raised, the residents can choose which charity to donate the proceeds to. Donations can vary from natural disaster relief to food banks, to treatment of a sick child.

Giving back and finding meaning in resident’s lives can come in many forms. In Minnesota, a facility has put together a resident-run music program. Residents give lectures, recitals, and music lessons to their fellow residents. In Michigan, several of the residents were civil servants. The facility has put together a resident council, and they can participate in similar activities that they used to take on when they worked in the local government. In Illinois, residents can take university-level courses, and choose what role they would like to take on in their facility. Another facility in Michigan opened a thrift shop for a resident who had spent her career working in retail. All proceeds from the thrift shop go to the community’s benevolent fund. There are also many facilities that have resident-run art classes.

In conclusion, residents and patients of long-term and post-acute facilities have a lot more to offer than just focus on their health concerns. When residents are given personalized opportunities to give time and talent to enhance the lives of others, they increase the quality of their own lives. Residents of facilities have worked careers, cultivated talents, and are capable of many diverse actions. If providers take the time to get to know their resident’s strengths and facilitate these actions, other residents, the outside community, and many others around them can benefit.