Elderly care management is a rising concern in the 21st century; as individuals and healthcare systems find ways to care for the elderly, facilities and hospitals that house elderly patients are criticized for their frail condition and mediocre infrastructure.
For starters, there are limited facilities related to proper patient care on a long-term basis. However, many care management programs are developing rapidly to provide excellent care for the elderly. These programs include services of social workers as well as registered nurses for the job. Social workers usually hold a responsibility to look after the elderly, while nurses help treat older patients with chronic diseases or other illnesses.
In most hospitals, nurses are bound to deal with old patients. Since knowing how to care for the elderly and communication is crucial, here are some tips to help to care for the elderly more effectively.
1. Learn about common elder diagnosis
Due to several reasons, it is not appropriate to be rude, sarcastic, or ask the elderly about their medical condition. For example, if you questioned a patient if they have dementia, we doubt they’ll give you a proper answer. But with a basic understanding of common elderly diseases and diagnosis, you can understand what a patient is suffering from. While many nursing programs cover the basics of these ailments, online master nursing programs can help enhance your knowledge if you choose to work in this department. Some of the most common illnesses elderly patients experience are:
- Heart conditions: These may include cognitive disruptions, heart failure, blood pressure problems, artery diseases, etc. Side effects of such conditions include lack of strength in the body and overall fatigue.
- Dementia: Patients suffering from dementia experience memory loss, which causes aggressive and paranoid behavior.
- Delirium: Some symptoms include disorientation, short attention span, mood swings, shaking, etc.
- Depression: While anger and irritability are expected in the elderly, it is often a sign of depression. Old age also comes with sadness, a constant feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, and irritability.
2. Understand their body’s state
If you were in a similar position where you’d see time pass you by, you’ll be frustrated as well. Old age comes with weakness and loss of hearing. In such conditions, you may face many communication hurdles when dealing with elderly patients. First, they may not hear or understand you correctly; secondly, they may seem irritable and angry at minor things. You can deal with such a situation by:
- Reducing background noises
- Gently grabbing their attention
- Speaking clearly and loudly
- Repeating yourself if necessary
- Standing under good lighting
Background noises often disrupt your voice; it’d be best to reduce background noises to a minimum when you talk. If you can’t, then speak to the elderly when you stand near them. Apart from that, they often have the habit of nodding even when they don’t understand a word you say, so repeat yourself often to get the message across.
Apart from hearing loss, their bodies are frail and weak, and they no longer possess the strength they once did, and this is where you’ll need to assist them in the simplest tasks such as walking or sitting down. Being considerate of their condition in all regards will make communication and treatment easier for you and them.
3. Respect generational differences
Social conventions change with time, and not everyone accepts them as readily as you do, and you’ll often find the elderly complaining about social gatherings and crowds. But as a healthcare worker, it is your responsibility to respect their opinions and maintain a respectful relationship with the patient. Take measures to make them feel as normal as possible by covering the traces of differences.
For example, if you have facial piercings that make your elderly patient react negatively, consider removing them while you’re on the job or change the topic in a friendly way to take their mind away from such issues. The goal here is to avoid any arguments or make them agitated towards you.
4. Find ways to keep them active
The only thing worse than chronic illness is boredom. While your elderly patients may be suffering and their physical movements are limited, there are still ways to keep them engaged. Keeping them active and moving around ensures that their body gets the exercise they need.
The feeling that comes after going for a walk in the garden or engaging in a team activity will also make your job easier. After all, a pleasant elderly is much easier to deal with than an irritable patient.
Caring for elderly patients isn’t easy. You’ll have to be extremely patient, polite, and considerate of their condition so you can provide excellent healthcare services as a nurse. But their old age is as frustrating to them too, so communication, respect, and assistance for them can significantly improve their health condition and mood.
The ways we’ve discussed will help you find ways of dealing with and caring for elderly patients. But, circumstances vary according to the state of the illness and its toll on a patient’s behavior.