A report published by the Administration on Aging estimates that approximately one in seven Americans live to the age of 65 or older. The senior population in the United States is expected to grow to 98 million by 2060.
In light of the growing elderly population demographic, care needs will rise. And as care needs rise, it affects not only relatives or loved ones who have elders to care for in their home, but also aging people themselves. While many consider caring for seniors a burden, nurses take on this role like heroes and alleviate the problem for many.
Providing care to the elderly includes taking the time to understand each senior’s circumstances and conditions. As someone interested in elder care, you must know the right tips and tricks to care for each individual adequately.
How does a geriatric care degree help?
Geriatrics is the area of medicine that focuses on the illnesses and health issues associated with elderly patients. Aging patients tend to suffer from multiple chronic conditions, which necessitates additional care and greater empathy as patients are more sensitive on both physical and emotional levels.
Nurses interested in caring for the elderly must be capable of providing adequate assistance to those with weakened immune systems and declining physical functions. Typically, these nurses start working by acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). However, nurses must pursue a master’s degree to be more efficient in providing senior care services. Many affordable AGNP programs allow nurses to become experts in preventing, diagnosing, and treating common diseases while focusing on vulnerable and at-risk populations.
Tips for nurses who want to work in senior care
Once you have the degree, you will need some experience to be able to handle providing care to elderly patients efficiently. To help you get started, we have listed some tips below:
1. Be sensitive to their condition
As part of caring for elderly patients, you might have to address conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Occasionally, patients can show difficulty or be unresponsive because of hearing, vision, or cognitive problems. To provide efficient care, nurses must find a way around these obstacles.
For instance, nurses should speak clearly and slowly to cognitively challenged patients and reiterate important information. In addition, they can provide brochures to patients to help them remember what was discussed.
When nurses are dealing with patients with hearing disabilities, they should be mindful of the background noise. Be sure to reduce background noise; speak louder, but don’t shout, and maintain eye contact while they talk.
And to meet the needs of patients with visual impairment, nurses can prepare easy-to-read handouts or provide them with audio information. To ensure the reading material is helpful, print black text on white backgrounds, leave ample space between lines and use an 18-point font. Furthermore, printing reading materials on plain paper is recommended to prevent reflections caused by glossy papers.
2. Be respectful
Respect for elders is something everyone should strive for, not just nurses, but caring for elders requires it. The best way to show respect is to patiently listen to the seniors, be tactful and patient, and avoid arguments or confrontations.
Nurses should remember that there may be an age gap between them and the patient, and their viewpoints may differ from those they were raised with. Having a different opinion on contemporary topics does not require anyone to be disrespectful or rude. In fact, when you find yourself in such a situation, take a step back and handle it with respect.
Seniors have a variety of experiences to share. It is important to treat them with respect even if you disagree with them. Over time, they will treat you as a genuine companion, and this will turn into mutual respect. Additionally, you’ll foster a sense of empowerment and confidence in them.
3. Maintain regular communication
Nursing care for seniors should involve regular communication with patients. Communication can take the form of a text message or phone call, or it can be in the form of an exchange of letters or emails. What’s important is that you communicate with them and inform them of their progress and medication. In addition, caregivers should allow (and encourage) their loved ones and friends to freely communicate with seniors.
4. Be compassionate
Compassion is a key characteristic of a caregiver. It means empathizing and understanding what your senior is going through. During this time of change, seniors may experience a lot of challenges. Having someone to encourage and support them can help them easily transition through this difficult stage of life.
5. Establish trust
Establishing a positive relationship is one of the essential aspects of senior care. Seniors often experience a great deal in their lives, which makes them weary of meeting new people. Developing trust with them takes time, but the rewards are great.
It is more likely seniors will open up and share their thoughts and feelings when they trust you and feel respected. Additionally, they will follow your instructions more readily.
While some elderly may have trouble trusting others because of past experiences, you can show you are genuinely trustworthy by maintaining respect, compassion, and effective communication.
6. Show sincerity
The expression of sincerity can take many forms. During routine visits, nurses must inquire about the patient’s living situation and social circles. A nurse’s understanding of a patient’s beliefs and culture is critical to treatment success. Having this understanding makes it easier to agree on a course of action. It’s also crucial to avoid making ageist assumptions when making recommendations.
7. Respect their time by being punctual
Nurses working with the elderly, especially in nursing facilities, must remember that they may be the only social interaction elders have during the day. It means that patients are looking forward to your arrival during visiting hours. If you arrive late (and don’t apologize politely), you will make yourself look unreliable.
Being late may be interpreted as an indication of disrespect and carelessness. Elders may think you put little effort into your work and only care about getting the job done as soon as possible. In contrast, punctuality builds respect and demonstrates professionalism.
8. Prepare for dementia in seniors.
Many seniors suffer from dementia, which affects their ability to recall information, their ability to communicate, their focus, their ability to reason and make judgments, and their visual perception. People with dementia often experience emotional and behavioral changes, causing stress to themselves and their caregivers.
As their primary care provider, you must recognize dementia significantly impairs a person’s judgment, and nothing said or done is personal. Rather than drawing attention to the situation, you should give the person a chance to calm down. If an elder becomes aggressive, you must remain calm and ask the nurses or care assistants to help you.
9. Do not treat them as babies
When it comes to the elderly, the best trick is, don’t make assumptions about your senior’s abilities. Most seniors have a fairly independent nature and dislike being treated like babies.
Nevertheless, seniors are known to be more prone to falls and injury. The key is to keep a close eye on them to prevent injuries or falls but not appear overbearing.
And don’t forget to offer help if you see that they are struggling with something.
10. Knowledge is power; share it
Sharing knowledge is a great way of gaining their trust. People are more inclined to trust you if they believe you are knowledgeable and confident that you have a thorough understanding of what you are talking about. Additionally, they’ll enjoy learning new things from you and appreciate you sharing your knowledge of various subjects.
Working with seniors can be difficult, and you will need patience. However, you can learn some tips and tricks through your early experiences as a nurse. Even your degree can give you a better understanding of how seniors behave and think. Most nurses who want to work in senior care know it’s challenging, but still pursue the field because they know it can be a very rewarding experience. The tips mentioned in this article apply in any situation, not only to those who treat or care for seniors.