By Alexander Germanis
While the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, they were taught a vital lesson: in order to live life to its fullest, simply staying well fed is not enough.
“…Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Seeking a spiritual balance with the physical is a truth that remains as true today as it did thousands of years ago. It is taught not only by theologians, but psychologists and healthcare professionals as well. It is a truth practiced on a daily basis at Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka.
Feed the spirit
Serving with a biblical approach is what sets Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka (ACHE) apart from many other senior living facilities. Administrator Thomas Hoffman encourages all their employees to look to the perfect exemplar, Jesus Christ, as for how to treat and serve the seniors in their care. “Christ showed respect, he showed love, and he served,” Tom points out. “That is the focus we want in our organization; that’s a big part of who we are.”
Serving in a Christ-like way is what has garnered ACHE a five-star rating from both U.S. News and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This focus of respect and love for the residents culminates in taking care of all their needs — not just their physical needs, but their spiritual and emotional needs as well.
Meeting some of those needs is addressed by what is called “validating their personhood.”
“Part of our effort is to recognize the incredible contributions our seniors have made and to celebrate who they are,” Tom explains. “They have a lot to offer yet; it’s just a matter of finding a way to allow them to become productive — to feel they are contributing.”
One way in which they contribute is through intergenerational involvement. “We work with our local school district,” Tom says. “We’ve got a reading program where, throughout the school year, second graders will come to the home, are paired with individual seniors, and the students will read to the residents. It gives the students opportunities to practice their reading skills and it’s a great bonding time. Some kids develop a really strong, almost grandparent/grandchild, relationship with our residents.”
When the local preschool brings its children in, the residents get a chance to read to kids as well. They also engage in crafts with the youngsters, interact with mothers and their newborns in a program called Baby Joy, and participate in Family Fun Day.
These experiences and the spirit of Christ-like love expressed at ACHE help feed the spirits of the residents, which helps foster continued feelings of joy and significance in not only their lives, but also the lives of those in the community.
Prosper in body
While recognizing the importance of spiritual wellbeing, the Apostle John counseled that one’s physical health should not be ignored. In his epistle to Gaius, he wrote, “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2).
Like the apostle before them, Apostolic Christian Home also recognizes that physical health factors into living a happier life.
Moreover, with the changes in insurance, Medicare, and healthcare in general, ACHE understands the need to adapt in order to meet the new needs of those in their care. “Patients are being discharged from hospitals much quicker, and this increases the need for expanded therapy services in skilled nursing facilities like ours,” Tom explains. “We are significantly increasing the size of our therapy department to provide adequate space to meet the needs of individuals needing physical, occupational, and speech therapy.”
“Rehab therapies would pertain to individuals who have had an acute issue such as a recent illness, surgery, stroke, etc,” he continues. “Acute rehab therapy will work to get them back to their prior level of functioning. Other therapies, such as strength training or health and wellness, would help maintain strength and help prevent falls, illness, etc.”
A vital aspect of any form of healthcare is access to that healthcare. Now licensed in outpatient therapy, ACHE is able to provide both inpatient and outpatient therapeutic care for their residents. “We are now seeing individuals who are discharged from the hospital directly to their homes as well as residents discharged from our facility who need continued therapy,” Tom says. “With the focus of Medicare on length of stay at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities and the desire to have delivery of care/services in the least costly environment, we will continue to see an increase in outpatient therapy/rehab.”
Those residents who still require some degree of assistance with their daily activities in their homes but do not have support will continue to be treated as inpatient residents until they are able to function in that environment or they have support, Tom assures.
As homes can create risk factors for seniors, the ACHE therapy department does home visits for the residents in order to determine the safety of the home. “They will make recommendations for changes that will make it easier for the individual to function safely,” says Tom. “Simple things like adding a ramp, removing throw rugs that can contribute to trips and falls, adding grab bars to showers and bathrooms to assist the individual in balance and support when standing or sitting.”
Prospering the community
Although Apostolic Christian Home is a senior living facility, their therapy department and future community wellness center will both operate with every member of the community in mind.
Younger people in need of therapy but whose insurance may only cover less expensive therapeutic options will have the ACHE therapy department to come to.
Of course with the Baby Boomer generation now being the most numerous, there are many senior individuals living in the area who can benefit from what ACHE has to offer.
“We recognize seniors today are more active and desire to be more independent,” Tom says. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for these individuals to experience the highest quality of life. We are offering senior wellness seminars and screenings as we move the services to the seniors of our community outside the four walls of our facility.”
One such screening tests the balance and gait of an individual to identify what weaknesses that person may have. This is an especially crucial target, as the risk of falling is not only very high among the elderly, it is also a major fear. Based on the results of the screening, specific exercises and therapies can then be recommended to help develop and strengthen those areas in need of help, thus reducing the risk of falling.
Another aspect of the planned community senior wellness is the inclusion of a new exercise area. “It can be intimidating for a 70-year-old to go to a local workout gym and exercise next to a 25-year-old,” Tom shares, “so we are developing an exercise area that is designed specifically for seniors. Groundbreaking should begin in early November, with the anticipation of occupancy in late Spring 2019.”
Using compressed air instead of steel weights, the exercise equipment increases the safety factor for seniors. Wristbands are worn by each senior containing pertinent information such as ideal seat adjustment, weight, and number of repetitions for each piece of equipment. The encoded, individualized information is then updated as the senior progresses in their exercise program.
Community education can be just as important as exercise for overall health. “Our current classes cover a range of topics that will help the participant’s efforts to maintain healthy lifestyles,” Tom states. “Past topics have covered things such as Staying Vertical, Am I Normal, Low Vision, VE Arthritis, and Posture Is Important.”
While “overall wellness” is a phrase used quite often in society today, many, unfortunately, do not understand what it really means.
However, recognizing what overall wellness entails is what Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka has done by establishing their new therapy and wellness center, encompassing it all with their mission of “loving care in the spirit of Christ.”
Only by helping, healing, and strengthening the body, mind, and spirit together is true overall wellness brought to their residents and to the community as a whole.
To learn more about Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka please visit www.each.org or call 309-467-2311.