Longevity Therapy: An Innovative Approach to Nursing Home Care for the Elderly. Graubarth-Szyller BR, Padgett JD, Philadelphia, Charles Press, 172 pages, $16.95.
In their introduction, the authors state that their book is based on the "belief that old age can be a time of growth, vitality, and contentment, not a period of decline and wasting. . ."
They feel that nursing homes are perceived as "last stops," but with new models of caregiving, emotional as well as physical needs can be met. Nursing homes can serve as "centers for living, not dying." The authors answer the argument that such goals are Utopian and the philosophy that they propose will become the standard of care in the future.
Longevity therapy is described as a program of group activities designed to make old age fulfilling by resisting the declines in physical strength and emotional and social health through specific group activities. The components of longevity therapy are philosophy, motivation, expression, group building, and feedback. The book describes activities that, although designed for group use, can, in some instances, be used in individual work. Some confused residents can be included in group activities, according to the authors.
Longevity therapy seeks to preserve self-responsibility, which does not change with the losses of aging. The role of nursing home staff is to help elders exercise their ability to act responsibly on their own behalf. Exercise involves movement, breathing, meditation, motivation, laughter, music, yoga, and tai chi. Group building is discussed in several areas.
The characteristics of an effective leader are described, and the authors feel that even if an individual does not display the qualities listed, the missing qualities can be learned. Information is provided on staff development programs for nursing home staff as well as ongoing staff development.
The book concludes with the development of the philosophy behind longevity therapy. The final pages contain diagrams of the role change spiral, in which the individual goes from normal functioning through loss of roles and selfworth to acceptance of the patient roie, vegetation, and death. If intervention, such as longevity therapy, occurs before a significant decrease in self-worth and dignity, health maintenance through personal responsibility will take place.
The authors present an innovative philosophy of care for the elderly in nursing homes. They have been practitioners of longevity therapy for more than 1 0 years. It would be interesting to see this therapy in action.