The televisions were probably on, the eyes of every staff member glued to the screen, watching in horror. Yet for many of the residents, their comprehension of this awful reality was hindered by Alzheimer’s disease.
Reality orientation is an activity that many Alzheimer’s care communities offer. In this basic daily activity, usually done in the morning, a staff member (either the activities director or a direct care worker) will give a rundown about the day. “Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2012. It is 8:00am. The weather is warm and sunny. We are in New York City. Breakfast will begin shortly.”
There is some controversy in the industry as to whether reality orientation is necessary or beneficial. Some believe that the ritual may be more upsetting and disorienting than it is helpful.
The awful reality of Alzheimer’s is that a person’s understanding and ability to process their present reality is limited because of the disease, and this is a fact beyond their control.
In assisted living communities that provide Alzheimer’s care, an effective way to provide security and a sense of normalcy for those whose minds and bodies are betraying them is to offer activities that are familiar, establish an environment that is comforting, and above all, do these things consistently.