Parallel programming is an essential part of maintaining an active, engaged census in your senior living community.
Activity directors have the difficult task of building and executing programming that fits the needs of every resident. It’s not just catering to the different hobbies, interests and passions of your census; it’s also about curating activities that are accessible and inclusive for everyone.
The prominence of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia across communities is a chief concern. Seven million Americans aged 65 or older had dementia in 2020, and that number could rise to nine million by 2030, according to data from the Population Reference Bureau. That’s nearly a 30% increase over the course of a single decade.
This means every community needs to equip themselves with the strategies and tools to keep memory care residents healthy, active and social. Doing so will ensure your community stands out as a welcoming option for families with dementia-affected loved ones.
Parallel programming involves creating opportunities for small, intimate groups of residents or individual residents to enjoy more personalized activities when other larger group programming is occuring. It can help seniors — especially those living with memory loss and cognitive decline — engage more fully in activities and conversations.
Activity directors have a lot on their plate, so we’ve brainstormed five ideas for your parallel programming schedule. We’ll also introduce Eversound, the wireless headphone system that can maximize parallel programming by increasing communication, comprehension and engagement.
What is parallel programming?
Parallel programming is the practice of setting up multiple activities or conversations at the same time in your senior living community. These unique, yet simultaneous sessions allow activity directors to cater to residents with differing needs based on memory loss, hearing loss or other conditions that affect cognitive skills and communication.
The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners suggests the idea of “clustering” residents of the same functioning level together.
For example, let’s say you have 10 residents on your floor. Four of them are unable to participate in the sing-along due to a variety of factors. Activity directors can set up a table with another activity (let’s say, tactile and sensory items) and let the remaining six residents participate in the sing-along.
What are the benefits of parallel programming?
The benefits of parallel programming are tangible:
- Every resident, regardless of their level of cognitive ability, has the opportunity to participate in an engaging, enriching activity.
- Residents who are less affected by memory conditions can enjoy a different activity that caters to their interests and functioning level.
- Your census still feels connected, because residents are enjoying programming at the same time.
Dementia certainly doesn’t have to stop residents from enjoying activities with their neighbors. Although there is no cure for this condition, there’s evidence that social interaction and activities can prolong life.
As stated by the National Institute on Agings, “People who engage in personally meaningful and productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood and have a sense of purpose.”
Given the risks associated with senior loneliness and isolation, every opportunity for having fun with fellow residents is a win for senior living leaders and staff.
Eversound’s role in parallel programming
Eversound, senior living’s preferred wireless headphone system, is a helpful injection of purposeful technology for your parallel programming routine.
Multiple activities, noises and other stimuli occurring in a singular room can be too much for anyone — especially seniors with cognitive issues, or those suffering from hearing loss.
Eversound’s wireless headphones amplify sound and eliminate background noise, making it easier for residents to stay engaged with their activities. Activity directors can broadcast any form of audio over Eversound’s wireless transmitters, or use the microphone to have small group discussions.
5 ways to use Eversound for parallel programming
Here are a few examples of Eversound in action with parallel programming for memory care:
Arts and crafts
Art is a fantastic way for residents to express themselves. Activity directors can use Eversound’s amplified microphone to deliver step-by-step instructions for projects — and residents won’t have any trouble hearing over other activities that are going on.
The Eversound members portal has hundreds of ready-to-go activity ideas if you’re looking for inspiration as well as programs labeled as “rekindle” that are specially designed for memory care residents.
Eversound helps block out background noise, meaning residents with dementia can immerse themselves more easily in music–based activities. A separate group could be enjoying a movie or documentary on full-volume nearby, and your music therapy group will be undisturbed. And you don’t have to stop with music: audiobooks and podcasts work great too.
Once again – the members portal is a great helper for activity directors looking for playlists and other programming tools.
Reminiscence therapy uses the senses to help residents with dementia better recall memories and people from the past. Residents can use Eversound to have discussions when looking at photos, pictures or videos from the past. They can also listen to recordings or other audio forms that help them connect with their core memories — whether individually or in a group.
A great part about Eversound is that the system can broadcast up to 300 feet from the transmitter, without the need for WiFi or cellular service. This means outdoor activities are easy to accommodate.
Staff can use the headphones to instruct residents as they work in a garden outside. The conversation remains clear, even if nearby lawnmowers or chirping birds get noisy.
Another great use of Eversound in outdoor parallel programming: nature walks. This brings the added benefit of exercise for residents dealing with cognitive impairment. The 300-foot range gives residents more freedom to explore on their own, without feeling disconnected from the group.
How to get started
Eversound is committed to helping senior living communities build engaging, accessible and inclusive environments for all their residents. Our free eBook helps community leaders build a foundation for the future of resident engagement and position their communities for continued success with Eversound.
If you’d like to speak directly with an Eversound team member, get in touch! We’ll help you build an Eversound-infused parallel programming schedule that ensures every resident has what they need for an enriching, social experience.