Why Behavioral Health Care Is Key to Quality of Care in Assisted Living

You can increase the quality of life for residents in assisted living facilities by keeping them mentally and physically healthy. One way to achieve this is to prioritize Medicare-accepted behavioral health care.

Behavioral Health or Mental Health?

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, behavioral health has increasingly become a common topic. It is now the norm to discuss coping strategies, especially among older adults. 

But what is the difference between behavioral health and mental health? People use these terms synonymously, but there are crucial differences. Behavioral health focuses on a person’s daily habits and how they affect their overall well-being, including their emotions. Mental health, on the other hand, stretches beyond behavioral patterns.

The Impact of Behavioral Health Problems on Assisted Living

In the United States, there are currently just under 40 million people above 65. This number will increase dramatically over the next 20 years. Experts expect it to double by 2050 because the baby boomer generation is aging. About 1.5 million seniors live in nursing homes, and approximately 1 million live in assisted living facilities.

The percentage of people over 65 living in nursing homes has declined steadily over the past 20 years. At the same time, assisted living has gained popularity. While nursing homes are focused on providing necessary medical care, assisted living facilities have a different purpose. They allow a more community-based, social lifestyle with help available when needed. However, assisted living staff members are not always full-time licensed nurses. As a result, a facility may find it challenging to ensure a high standard of living and quality of care for residents when faced with behavioral health issues.

How to Ensure a High Quality of Care in Assisted Living Facilities

Your assisted living facility should offer high-quality, compassionate, individualized behavioral health care. This is because untreated behavioral health problems or unsolved emotional issues can affect a person’s quality of life. They can prevent seniors from enjoying their lives to the fullest. 

Working with experienced, licensed professionals is the best way for a facility to ensure that its services are helping the community. Operators cannot expect their staff to take on behavioral health care from one day to the next. But training existing staff can go hand-in-hand with using an external provider.

There were some residents who weren’t coming out of their rooms and didn’t want to engage with anyone… that has really changed since offering this program — they are more apt to talk now and be around other people — they are really starting to come out of their shell and are really happy with the service.

Renee Najarro, Director of Resident Care. The Ivy of McKinney

What High-Quality Behavioral Health Care Looks Like

1. Behavioral health care by qualified staff

Workers who provide behavioral health care should possess the required qualifications. This will ensure that they meet the needs of residents.

2. Residents encouraged to participate in behavioral health care programs

Residents should not need a mental health diagnosis to participate in a behavioral health program. The program also benefits seniors looking to live their best lives past 65. 

3. Physical exercise and activities included in behavioral health care

Assisted living seniors struggling with mental health issues may isolate themselves in their rooms. Physical exercise and other activities will increase their quality of life and give them reasons to leave the confines of their rooms and socialize. 

Scientists have proven that physical exercise improves several mental health conditions. Even light activity can help boost self-esteem, reduce depression, and improve your mood. Therefore, physical exercise and activities are vital components of a successful behavioral health program.

An Individual Approach

Because every assisted living resident is different, their behavioral health needs are unique. Thus, an individual approach and respect for residents’ boundaries are essential for creating a successful behavioral health program.

As important as social interactions are for behavioral and mental health, not every resident enjoys the same type of activity. Creating a varied schedule is more likely to benefit many residents.

Assisted living staff can only develop suitable activities for residents if they genuinely understand their needs. Developing this level of understanding starts with a professional evaluation and diagnosis of any behavioral concerns. Addressing these concerns and overcoming behavioral health challenges creates the highest possible quality of life.

Platforms like Behavioral Health Programs from TrueCare™ are ideal for helping your assisted living facility deliver the highest level of care to your resident.

The program combines a well-structured but flexible approach with residents’ well-being at its heart. Help your residents grow stronger emotionally and watch your assisted living community thrive.

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.