WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) - As dementia progresses, some people with the condition become aggressive and out-of-touch.
A new program at an area nursing home uses touch and spa-like treatments to bring comfort to its end-of-life residents.
Lake Winona Manor began the Namaste Program last April. Lead nurse Theresa Dillinger said for the home, “namaste” means “honoring the inner spirit.”
She said that the previous year, there had been 28 staff injuries from residents. But in the nine months since the Namaste program began, that number is down to nine.
"My mother, well, she's had a very interesting life,” Debbie Corrao said of her 85-year-old mother, Myrna Engh.
Engh was a world traveler, and although she's now living at Lake Winona Manor nursing home, she still enjoys the finer things in life.
"She is our wine drinker,” Dillinger said. “She likes her afternoon cocktail, likes hand massages, her feet and nail care."
Thanks to the home's Namaste program, that’s a daily reality.
"It's a different feeling here,” Corrao said.
In the Namaste room, residents with dementia are met with music, diffusers, massages, nail care and more, with activities designed to meet individual interests.
"It's great, knowing they've got that comfort. They're not just sitting there staring at a wall,” Dillinger said. “It warms your heart."
In the beginning, the Namaste Program was designed for late-stage dementia patients, but it has grown to include more of the home's 34 residents.
Since the program began, Dillinger said residents' aggression both to staff and other residents has gone down markedly.
"It seems since we've moved her here, she's lost a lot of her anger,” Corrao said.
Last May, Corrao moved her mother to the home in part because of the Namaste Program.
"I feel like it's done a great job, and I think every place should have it, I really do,” Corrao said.
"It just relaxes them,” certified nursing assistant Anna Miller said. “It's amazing what it does."
Miller has noticed a lot more smiles among residents.
"It makes my day go by so much better knowing they're happy,” she said.
"It's been great for my mom and great for her family,” Corrao said.
She knows her mother is in the last leg of her journey, but she couldn't think of a better final stop.
"She's progressing in her illness, there's no two ways about that, but it’s in a more gentle way,” Corrao said. “I feel good, so good, about the decision."
Some elements of the program are based on Namaste Care, an international program designed by Joyce Simard.
Lake Winona Manor got a $25,000 grant from Workforce Solutions to continue the program.
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