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Relaxation Room Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills San Antonio, Texas


In the relaxation room at Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills, resi- dents can explore all five senses – sight, touch, sound, smell and taste – as well as movement to help them soothe anxiety and stimulate memory. Autumn Leaves is an assisted living community focusing exclusively on memory care; the ability for residents to have somewhere quiet and inviting is essential, said Bob Enloe, vice president of health and wellness. Inside the relaxation room, residents can enjoy virtual stargazing with a laser hologram projector, use aromatherapy, listen to sooth- ing sounds such as the ocean or rain, watch a soothing image of fish, raindrops, or a garden on TV, and hold onto a “fidget pillow.” The pillows are made with male and female preferences in mind. For instance, pillows for females have buttons, Velcro, velvet and lace, and pillows for males feature a buckle and PVC pipe that can be unscrewed. The items on the male pillow are also larger to oc- cupy larger hands. “The success of a relaxation room is it doesn’t look like this is the time out room,” said Enloe. “It’s not stark or clinical. It looks like any other room within community but within it are all these features that can be used to help someone reduce anxiety and regain balance.” The sensory stimulation used in the room depends on each individual resident and what they respond to the best, Enloe said. “As time goes on, you learn what is really impactful for each resi- dent,” he said. Residents often want to use the relaxation room after experiencing overstimulation, getting bad news, having a bad memory or experiencing excess energy.


Another reason the room works so well is everything is close


at hand so the staff can fulfill the resident needs without having to leave the room and find something to calm them, said Rita Hendricks, director of design. And, because everything is in one room, if the resident doesn’t respond to stargazing one day, the staff can try soothing sounds or aromatherapy instead. Aroma- therapy might include the scent of lavender to soothe or the smell of peppermint to stimulate appetite before a meal, Enloe said. “This room was designed as a place to give multiple options quickly in one location,” Enloe said. For instance, the room is also used to provide light therapy for residents who experience distur- bances in their circadian rhythm, which is common for people with dementia, as well as residents with seasonal affective disorder. Most residents use the room every day, Enloe said, and it’s


not just through staff encouragement. Many of them go into the room themselves because it is part of their home, and it’s open and inviting. Sometimes residents who are close friends will even enjoy quiet time in the room together.


Continued on page 10


NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 / SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE 9


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