With medical and technological advancements, life expectancy has increased. More people reach old age, and the older population is growing significantly. According to statistics, the number of adults over 65 is four times more than in 1900. Similarly, WHO states that by 2030 16% of the world will be over 60 years. With such increasing numbers, skilled nurses are a need of the hour.
Nurses interact with the elderly throughout their careers. From visiting homes to working in hospitals, nurses frequently encounter senior patients. How nurses care for such old patients significantly impacts patient outcomes. A patient-centered care plan can improve the elderly’s health and quality of life. It focuses on providing the best possible care to the patient, and nurses are a vital part of this plan. Thus, nurses require special skills and training to provide and improve patient care.
Here are seven tips that can help nurses upgrade their geriatric care
Understand your patient:
Every patient is unique. They have a different way of coping with illness or a unique outlook on life. As their caretakers, nurses must understand their patients and navigate accordingly.
Understanding your patient’s condition and mindset can help you improve their care. Begin with looking into patient files and apprehending their medical condition. Afterward, talk with the elderly patient and try to understand their personality. Dig deeper into their psyche and find answers to questions like are they hopeful or depressed, do they lack willpower, or do they have an optimistic approach? Answers to such questions can help you streamline your care and pinpoint the areas that require attention.
Opt for higher nursing courses like a post masters DNP online program to fully equip yourself with the skills necessary for providing individualized care. Not only do these programs sharpen your skillset, but they also help you pursue leadership roles.
Communication is the key to providing exceptional care. By efficiently connecting with elderly patients, nurses can improve patient safety and satisfaction. The patient feels heard and comfortable, resulting in mental and physical relaxation.
Effective communication begins with active listening. Carefully listen to what the elderly say, pay attention to body language, and try not to interrupt. It is often troublesome for the elderly to explain themselves accurately. Similarly, comprehending what the other person is saying is also strenuous. Therefore, try to listen actively and use simple language. Explain concepts repeatedly, and ask questions about what they expect from you. Moreover, ask for their opinion on matters relating to health.
By following these steps, you can build rapport with your patient. In addition, the elderly will feel in control as they would be aware of their condition and treatment.
Provide a safe space:
Whether the elderly are in hospitals or at home, they require special tools and assistance. Handling objects, taking medication, and moving around can be inconvenient for old patients. However, few structural changes and technology can ease their everyday life.
As a nurse, you are responsible for providing a safe and comfortable environment for your patient. Begin with introducing technology to the patient. Electronic systems and devices that help a patient control room temperature, call a caregiver, or track daily activities can be a great addition. Electronic pill dispensers and alert systems can also aid patients in keeping track of their medications. In addition, tablets or phones can be great for communication with those patients who face hearing problems. Similarly, try to remove objects that can result in falls or injuries.
A safe environment will encourage the elderly to move and handle everyday tasks. Resultantly, they will feel independent and untroubled.
Focus on social wellbeing:
With age, our social circle tends to increase. We turn inwards and participate less in social activities. However, this negatively impacts the mind and health, especially in the elderly.
In the elderly, social isolation can be devastating. It results in depression and apathy. Self-seclusion causes irritability, anxiety, high blood pressure, and reduced mobility, worsening existing illnesses. Nurses can help improve the social inclusion of elderly patients. Creating activities that promote socializing, spending quality time, and encouraging family involvement are some ways nurses can help. Similarly, teaching the elderly about social media and networking can help them maintain a social network.
Positive socialization will not only improve patient mood but will also keep them active and engaged.
Overcome cognitive challenges:
Cognitive loss is common in older adults. According to CDC, one in every nine adults has subjective cognitive decline, resulting in memory loss and difficulty performing everyday tasks. Thus, nurses must work toward helping the elderly combat cognitive impairment by providing the best care possible.
Activities that strengthen the brain are essential to an elderly’s daily routine. As a nurse, you can try to encourage brain exercises. Solving puzzles, playing cards, or building something together can help the elderly maintain cognitive function. Carrying out outdoor activities such as grocery shopping promotes social inclusion, involvement of the five senses, and decision-making, resulting in better memory and problem-solving. Trying out something new and routinely carrying out favorite hobbies can also help.
Practicing patience is essential for caring for older adults. They often require special assistance and extra attention to heal and carry out tasks. Due to varying medical illnesses, they suffer from hearing and vision loss, requiring special care from nurses.
Seniors face difficulty understanding the easiest of things. Their minds are unable to comprehend rapidly and are often confused. At such times, nurses should stay patient and communicate effectively. They should repeat their words clearly and explain where necessary. Similarly, nurses should try to be as calm as possible and encourage intellectual stimulation in the elderly.
Your behavior will have a long-lasting impact on the patient. Not only will they feel respected, but their chances of improvement will also increase.
Take time out:
Working with the elderly is demanding and tiring. Constantly repeating words, helping with basic tasks, and handling mood changes are challenging. After a while, you feel burned out. Therefore, it is necessary to take some time out for yourself.
To avoid burnout and provide the best caregiving, nurses should practice self-care. Nourish the mind, body, and soul. Practice mindfulness, yoga, and breathing exercises to help relieve stress. Focus on a balanced diet that provides nutrition and energy. In addition, try to get quality sleep to rejuvenate the body. Keep in touch with friends and family to avoid isolation and loneliness.
Nurses are principal caregivers. The elderly trust them and depend on them for top care. Thus, nurses must gain knowledge and sharpen their skills to deliver high-quality care to the elderly.