A Health & Wellness Education Program for Aging People with Cognitive Disabilities.
People with cognitive and developmental disabilities exhibit significant signs of aging about a decade before those without disabilities. They also experience the aging process faster and with stronger intensity. There is often a decline in health and mobility and an increase in fatigue and dependence on others. Many of them suffer from dementia with difficulty adapting to changes and stressful situations. They lose the ability to absorb, filter and process information, and find themselves unable to cope with daily activities including the basics of wellness, safety and hygiene.
We at Chimes have observed that by age 50, many of our clients are no longer cognitively or physically fit enough to participate in our employment services programs. To help people with cognitive disabilities to take more proactive steps in preventing or delaying age-related functional decline, we have built the behavior-oriented educational program, “Successful Aging.” The program consists of tailored therapeutic activities to help our clients relearn and maintain life skills so they can live active, meaningful and independent lives as long as possible. Topics include proper nutrition, common medical problems, proper medication use, interaction with doctors, maintaining general hygiene, necessary periodic examinations, safety at home, coping with loss, memory loss, and dementia.
This February, thanks to generous donors, we were able to launch the program at our employment centers in Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba, Rosh HaAyin, Tayibe, and Ariel. The eight groups of up to 15 participants each meet weekly at the Chimes Israel’s employment centers, and receive the service in Hebrew or Arabic, as needed.
According to Inbal Zuntz, nurse and the program’s director, because of the clients’ diverse cognitive levels, they designed the program to accommodate a spectrum of learning abilities.
“We use various strategies and tools including repetition, asking questions, short films, and hands-on activities such as healthy food preparation, exercise classes and memory card games,” said Zuntz. “The most enjoyable session for the clients so far was when the medical clown came and used humor to teach about managing physical challenges.”
We at Chimes Israel’s are proud to develop new programs that meet our service recipients changing needs and maintain or improve their quality of life.