Working with elderly patients is a difficult and challenging task as it requires a lot of patience and care. Being a nurse, you will have to deal with old patients, but it requires some must-have skills, patience, understanding, and compassion in abundance.
As you have chosen nursing as a career you might already have these to a certain level, but as you go further in this profession, you will have to enhance these things in order to serve better.
Here we have some useful and effective tips for all nurses out there who are working with old-aged patients or will do it sometime in the future.
They Are Not Babies
Most elderly patients hate it when you treat them like babies. They are independent so treating them like a baby can be irritating for them. However, it is true that there is a greater risk of injuries and falls when a person is old and cannot carry himself with strength. So in order to prevent them from falling or any injuries, it is essential to stay close to them but not appear very domineering. You can help them when you see them actually struggling, but do not stick to them like they cannot function without you; it will make them agitated.
Talk With Them and Share Your Thoughts
Elderly patients are interested in listening to stories of their daily lives. Engage them with whatever interesting thing you have been through in your life and tell them how it has contributed to your growth. Crack a joke or two and let them feel at ease with you. Nursing is a profession that is more about understanding and caring than providing medication and offering physical help. Seniors get happy when you show them new things and share your knowledge with them, and they actually like being treated as a friend instead of a patient.
Do Not Fake It
When you force yourself to become someone who you are not, people will know. The same thing happens when you work with senior patients. They appreciate it when someone is true and genuine. It helps them to build a connection and develop trust. There is nothing to be afraid of in being yourself in front of elderly patients. They will enjoy your company when you show them that you are actually eager to help them improve their health condition. It will let them know that you are not just another person who wants them to stay healthy so that they can carry themselves on their own, and they will take regular exercise and medication very seriously.
Nursing Is More than Just a Job
Seniors need more social interaction than people of any other age group. As they get old, they do not have many friends left, so they feel happy when people interact with them, even in a normal conversation. They like to talk about how energetic they were in their teenage and what experiences they have had, also they like to listen to others telling their stories. Social interaction improves their mental health.
Listen To What They Have To Say
Old people usually have a lot to say. They like to share their stories and enjoy it when they see you are invested. They love it when you respond accordingly. It gives them a sense of relaxation. They often repeat things twice, thrice, or more than that. You should stay persistent and calm in order to keep them from feeling they are bothering you.
Empathy Is the Key
In order to understand their state, try to put yourself in their shoes. Think about what they might be feeling and what it would be like to be that old and weak. It helps you to be more gentle and calmer while dealing with elderly patients. Understanding their fears and discomforts will help you to find alternative solutions to certain things. They do not need sympathy. They want a good and enjoyable
Patients with Dementia
Dementia affects a patient’s memory, focusing abilities, judgment and reasoning, attention, and skills of communication. In patients with dementia, behaviour, and emotions are greatly affected and can cause them stress. A person with dementia can be happy for a minute, and all of a sudden, might get quiet or yell at you. This has nothing to do with their true personality, but their affected emotions and judgments make them vulnerable. Understanding the condition of such patients can help you to deal with them accordingly. Such as giving them some time to relax and calm down. If a patient with dementia gets aggressive or, it is better not to panic and call for care aids for assistance.
Working with seniors requires a lot of patience. They process information slowly, and they take a little bit longer to stand up, sit down, and do something. You will need to be patient all the time and let them do things at their own pace. Telling them to move faster or do a certain thing quickly will upset them. Keep yourself calm, and it will let them grow comfortable around you. When you are trying to explain something, say things slowly. It is essential to talk clearly and a little bit louder so that they can hear easily.
Accept Every Treat and snack they Give You
Old-age patients like to share food items. Especially if they are feeling happy for some reason, they like to share cookies, treats, etc. You must always accept these and thank them with a warm smile. Let them know that their efforts mean a lot to you. They feel appreciated this way, and it lets them stay cheerful for a good part of the day. If you have any sort of food allergies, let them know in a polite way, so if next time they want to give you something, they will come up with an alternative. This builds a healthy relationship between you and your patient.
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Taking care of elderly patients gives a great sense of satisfaction and treating them right will help them to stay happy and active in their old age. Engaging them in activities and becoming more of a friend than a nurse is the best course of action. Use your profession as a power to be able to make many elderly friends. And friends always do right by friends, right? Nursing is a profession that comes with great responsibilities. So learn to do your best and keep in mind that your health matters too, so do not overburden yourself. If you feel like you need a little break, take it. It will refresh you, and you will come back extra motivated.