Nursing is hands down one of the most rewarding professions out there. But, arguably, the job's most delicate aspect is attending to senior citizens' needs. Typically, nurses provide care for elderly patients in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, rest-homes, and assisted living communities.
Senior patients are likely to have more complicated physical and mental health issues. Therefore, looking after them and ensuring quality care could be an uphill task for many nurses. Here are a few practical tips for nurses who are currently working with elderly patients or plan to do so in the future:
Many older adults grew up in an era where common courtesy and manners were necessary components of life. However, these societal criteria of previous decades gradually fade over time. It stands true for even healthcare settings.
Modern-day nurses have become a lot more casual than their predecessors. Nurses can make older people more comfortable when they pay attention to basic courtesies, such as saying thank you and please, asking for permission before taking action, making formal greetings, etc.
Earn The Required Degree
One of the biggest motivations for individuals to step into the nursing profession is the desire to help others. Indeed, having a genuine urge to give back to the community is excellent. But you cannot do well in nursing without undergoing formal education. Consider yourself enrolling in one of the well-reputed AGPCNP programs, as it will set a strong foundation for you to look after the elderly. In addition, online institutions offer nurses convenient, affordable, and high-quality education. To top it all off, admissions criteria for online nursing schools are sometimes less demanding than those for on-campus schools.
People over fifty and sixty may have difficulty keeping up with the barrage of questions and facts thrown at them. It would help if you gave them the time to digest information by slowing down properly. It mainly applies to patients who are not well-versed in the medical jargon, their disease, have a hearing problem, or anything of the sort.
At the same time, make sure you do not take too much of your patients' time. If your patients are hard-pressed for time, you should advise them to compile a list of their health issues before appointments. As a result, they will be well-prepared, and you will have a better idea of what they hope to cover during the consultation. After you have discussed the procedure and given your patients all the required information, allow them to ask any questions they may have. It will enable them to voice their concerns via inquiries, and you will be able to tell whether or not they fully understand your details and directions.
Reduce Social Isolation
People in their retirement years often struggle with loneliness and social isolation. Their families are now more separated than they were a few decades ago, causing many seniors to live alone. So much so that some elderly folks do not speak to anyone for days. According to well-documented studies, social isolation can trigger depression and sometimes lead to heart problems.
When patients come into a healthcare setting, nurses can assess the situation by observing the patients' social interactions. In addition, nurses may help senior patients cut down on the amount of time patients spend alone by urging them to participate in activities, including walking groups and peer support organizations.
While many organizations and clubs are dedicated to alleviating loneliness, elderly patients are often unaware of or unwilling to inquire about them. Therefore, nurses must have a working knowledge of these local resources to bridge the gap.
Ensure Patient Involvement
Senior patients often express frustration for not being informed about what is happening. One way to improve patient engagement is by encouraging shared decision-making. As a result, patients become more active participants in managing their treatment and pursuing their health goals. Medical professionals reveal that patient participation in decision-making can lead to quality care.
Another effective patient engagement strategy is extending your support outside the healthcare setting. Unless patients are in hospitals, they are unlikely to spend most of their time with nurses. Therefore, nurses should maintain open lines of communication with elderly patients. You may leverage healthcare technology to accomplish this objective. For example, patients and nurses can communicate via patient portal messages and other digital patient outreach tools to answer queries, monitor new treatments, and address other health problems.
Do Not Use Medical Jargon
Never presume patients know medical jargon or thoroughly understand their condition. Instead, establish the foundation for patient understanding by first asking what they know about their disease and then building on that knowledge.
Even though words like MRIs, stress tests, ultrasounds, and CT scans seem common, elderly patients might not know what each test entails. Try to break down the information in simple words and ensure your patients get the maximum information about their disease and treatment process.
Practice Active Listening
Listening is an important measure a nurse can take when providing care to the elderly. As people get older, they often develop mental and physical impairments that rob them of their autonomy and control over their life. Consequently, they might feel as though decisions regarding their health are taken without their involvement. Listening to the elders' opinions and concerns is essential for maintaining self-respect and dignity.
Take A Holistic Approach
When patients are hospitalized for one disease, they might also be suffering from medical conditions. Patients over 70 are prone to more than two chronic illnesses, such as asthma, hypertension, dementia, diabetes, or depression. Often, a patient is readmitted to the hospital due to a lack of attention to other issues that must have been addressed before. That is why a nurse should think holistically. It will broaden the scope of your treatment and improves overall care.
Patient satisfaction and empowerment are top priorities for nurses. It is not only a prerequisite for the profession but also ensures betterment in the healthcare sector. Indeed, providing top-notch care for the elderly is comparatively more difficult, but nurses can level up patient care by simply implementing these tried-and-true strategies.