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The Wellness Group: coping with disruptive behavior among elderly nursing home residents

15 Aug

Although this article is more a program description than a clinical trial, it is very much worth mentioning as an experimental pilot effort. A program designed at the Jewish Home and Hospital in New York City used meditation, relaxation, sensory awareness and guided imagery in a group setting to enhance self-awareness, self-esteem, and body awareness among demented elderly.

These techniques were used to address many of the daunting issues residents face – i.e., coping with disability, changes in body image, the promotion of self-empowerment, and the preservation of autonomy and personal integrity within the nursing home setting.

The article was written in response to a current emphasis in the field on the management of the residents’ behavior, which has focused entirely on the control of disruption rather than the promotion of strengths and abilities.

This approach does not take into account the numerous challenges the elderly face, related to coping with the loss of independence, reduced physical abilities, feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, and helplessness. The staff employing these methods determined that these techniques are simple and easily reproducible, and offer countless benefits to both residents and interdisciplinary staff.

Citation: Lantz MS, Buchalter EN, McBee L. The Wellness Group: a novel intervention for coping with disruptive behavior among elderly nursing home residents. Gerontologist 1997 Aug; 37(4): pp. 551-556.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award