The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” A person needs to be more than free of illness to achieve excellent health. They need to enjoy a high quality of life to balance physical and mental aspects.
What is Health Behavior?
Health behaviors not only influence a person’s mental well-being. They also have consequences for their physical health. Understanding the importance of health behaviors is especially critical in assisted living.
Health behaviors are everyday habits that contribute to achieving this balance. Examples include eating habits, physical activity, and social contacts. Healthy eating habits refer to the foods and meals a person chooses. The term also encompasses routines such as eating regularly and selecting a calm, comfortable setting.
Making time for exercise or physical activity, in general, contributes to good physical and mental health. The WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for older adults. Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise work just as well. Those numbers may look high initially, but a 30-minute walk done five times per week would meet the recommendations.
Apart from exercise and eating habits, social contacts are essential for the mental well-being of older adults.
As people retire from their working life, their social connections diminish.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation are often the consequence.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities were strongly affected by a lack of social contacts. Few were allowed visitors to limit the risk of disease spreading within elderly communities. Under those circumstances, keeping up healthy behaviors becomes difficult.
Why Health Behaviors are Important
Unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption, a lack of social interaction, and an unhealthy diet can quickly lead to physical and mental problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that one in five adults over 55 suffers from a mental health concern. Older male adults also have the highest suicide rate of all age groups.
Establishing healthy behaviors can help prevent those problems or stop them from progressing past the initial stages. Left untreated, occasional low moods and feelings of anxiety may become chronic and seriously impact an older person’s life.
How Assisted Living Facilities Can Help
Understanding health-related behavior is the first step toward ensuring excellent quality of care in assisted living facilities. Encouraging healthy habits starts when a new resident moves into the facility. Even if the resident continues to live independently, relocating into assisted living marks a significant transition in their life.
This transition is significant in several aspects. First, moving disrupts established healthy behaviors. Some people may find it hard to return to their previous routines. Second, moving into an assisted living community means that a person is entering the final phase of their life. They may still have decades ahead of them, but it is important not to underestimate the significance of this change.
Assisted living facilities can ease the transition by providing a behavioral health program for their residents. Managed by specifically trained and licensed nursing staff, these programs can be tailored to the needs of each resident. In many cases, they involve behavioral health counseling, access to a wide choice of activities, and opportunities to meet other residents.
Multi-faceted approaches like this improve the quality of care within an assisted living community. They also help residents live life to the fullest and enjoy their retirement.
Depending on the size of your assisted living facility, hiring an entire behavioral health team may not be ideal.
It is where services like TrueCare™’s Behavioral Health program can fill a gap and help you stand out among your competitors.
The TrueCare Behavioral Health platform offers a comprehensive, in-person, Medicare-accepted program—building an environment where residents can grow stronger emotionally and help build a healthier community.