Elderly patients are at a stage of their life that makes them vulnerable in various ways. For example, they may develop hearing loss, dementia, and vision impairment. They may also seem less optimistic about their lives; therefore, care providers need to be extra careful with them. While working with elderly patients, you cannot make assumptions about their abilities. Instead, it is crucial to understand them if you want to help in the best possible manner. The circumstances and conditions surrounding a patient’s health can vary considerably, and thus, so will their treatments.
Due to all these issues, elderly patients need care providers, including nurses, to communicate and effectively convey their message and understand them. This is why hospitals prefer to deploy experienced nurses for elderly care.
Nurses are generally eligible to offer their services after earning an associate degree. However, working with adult patients requires a particular set of skills and expertise with the right education mix.
Therefore, there is a seemingly greater inclination of the current cadre of nurses towards many different MSN and DNP programs, including masters in Nursing Education. These programs teach about the nuances of patient interactions, including those involving elderly patients. This way, nurses prepare themselves for complex issues such as working with older patients.
Nevertheless, it is always better to get all the information before deciding about an educational program. For instance, if you are thinking about pursuing a degree in nursing education, get yourself familiarized with some FAQs about MSN in Nursing Education
to be sure of your choice.
On the contrary, if you are already working with elderly patients, here are some tips to help make your job much easier.
1. Make them Comfortable
Once elderly patients enter the hospital, you have to take care of their comfort. You must guide them to proper seats and make them sit comfortably. Be aware that you may need to escort them from one room to another; therefore, check up on them once in a while to see if they need any help in case they have to wait long during their tests and scans.
2. Be particular About Your Body Language
Elderly patients have physical ailments, but they are often very particular about paying attention to them when they speak. Therefore, a nurse must be careful about their body language. If you are not directly facing them, it makes them uncomfortable. They might assume that you are not attentive to what they say.
On the contrary, when you sit alert and show that your focus is on them, you can send a message of care and empathy. Make sure to maintain eye contact
with them when you talk; this will keep their attention locked to you.
3. Be Patient With Them
We all know that cognition and a sense of understanding can fade with time. So, when talking to the elderly, you might need to repeat your message a couple of times before they understand you. They may also have hearing difficulty or obstructive communication skills; hence they may take more time to conclude a conversation than you might like. Always exercise patience and give the time they need to comprehend your message. Moreover, caregivers might need to display extra restraint when conveying an alarming message or bad news, making them restless.
4. Take the Help of Family Members
A nurse must involve the input of family members when making any treatment-related decision for elderly patients. There are many perks of involving family members, like helping to communicate effectively with the patients. Family members spend more time with the patient, so they know the best way to calm them or make confused and disconcerted patients understand your point.
5. Be Respectful Towards Them
Caregivers must be respectful towards all their patients, but with the elderly, it becomes even more important. The best way to be respectful towards them is to pay attention to their words and be more considerate about their opinions. A nurse must understand that an elderly patient might have a different concept about contemporary treatments or not understand new ways and medications. It is essential to understand the knowledge gap but at the same time acknowledge their experience. This understanding and respect can boost mutual trust and reduce the generational gap.
6. Listen to Them Carefully
You might have experienced your elders getting irritated when you don’t listen to them. Imagine their exasperation when they are in a hospital already bothered by their health. Therefore, it is very important to listen to them carefully, simultaneously considering their limited understanding. You need to deliberate that both parties face communication difficulties
. Therefore, your affirmative nod or alert body language may convey more attentiveness than your words.
Whenever they tell you something, make an effort not to interrupt, even if they initially make no sense to you. You have to make them feel valued to develop their trust. If patients find you making fun of them or not paying attention to their concerns, they might recoil back into their worries and feel stressed.
7. Show Your Sincerity
Elderly patients coming into a care facility often have a lot of uncertainties and worries about their health. Care providers must calm their nerves with their sincere attitude. Ask the right questions, signaling your earnest concern about their health. You must start your conversation casually, ask their name and create a sense of familiarity before going into the details of their ailment. Your friendly tone sets the groundwork for the patient to participate in their treatment willingly. They are generally apprehensive and withdrawn, but they may develop a positive impression about you and the whole organization with your sincere and lively attitude.
Working with elderly patients can be quite tricky. They need more attention and often have physical and mental inabilities. To make them comfortable, you need to display a sincere attitude showing that you care about their problem and want to help them deal with it. People become more withdrawn and aloof with age, as with elderly patients. If they sense your inattentive behavior, they may try to avoid you. However, you can help them with the proper training, skills, and experience.