Growing older is inevitable. And a person’s ability to sustain the same lifestyle they could when they were younger also becomes harder. Chronic illnesses become common; hence older adults require more care.
Here’s where quality healthcare comes into play. Nurses play a crucial role in helping to improve the quality of life for older patients. They do so by providing their services in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. However, being patient with older adults and addressing their healthcare needs requires a unique set of skills and knowledge – a set that not every nurse may possess initially. You can still hone these skills and knowledge to take better care of older adults. We’ve listed some helpful tips for your to follow.
Elderly patients have different care requirements than younger ones. Chronic illnesses require more precise and well-managed care and treatment. Therefore, you must have the proper skills and knowledge to be well qualified to care for them.
You can get ready for your position as a specialist by earning a degree in adult patient care, such as an adult gerontology nurse practitioner program. The concentration-specific coursework enables nurses to learn about treating and caring for older patients. If you’re a full-time nurse interested in upskilling, you can pursue an online AGNP program that allows for a flexible learning schedule. Specializing will help you better understand your patients and let you know what to expect. Being a specialist enables you to identify the patient’s primary ailments and treat them.
Older patients may have trouble walking even with a sturdy walking stick. You cannot expect a patient with swollen feet and weak bones and muscles to get to their appointment without pain and potentially injuring themselves. When patients show up for appointments, you need to know how much they can tolerate. So ensure wheelchairs are available, and an assistant who can help the patient onto the car.
You can also try setting an online appointment if they are permanently confined to their bed and unable to move. Visit patients without access to the internet at their homes.
Provide detailed instructions
Try not to hurry your elderly patients through a physical examination because doing so could injure or stress them out. Instead, be detail-oriented. Don’t presume they’ll comprehend acronyms; their prescriptions should contain entire paperwork. If the patient relies on a caretaker, ensure they receive reminders by emailing the caretaker.
Patients who use smart watches can receive a mobile SMS reminding them of follow-up appointments because the watches are digitally synced to their phones. Discuss their nutritional requirements and give them the necessary physical therapy to maintain circulation in stationary regions like the legs.
Communication involves words, hand gestures, body language, and tone. For people who struggle with hearing, try speaking loudly or using nonverbal cues. You can also use a tuning fork and experiment with various ranges until you discover the decibel that works for them. You can make meaning-indicating hand gestures when doing routine examinations, such as demonstrating what to do.
Perhaps the patient will find it simpler to follow your physical motions. Some older adults might not be native English speakers. Using a translation tool that hears spoken words and translates them is an alternative. Improved communication ensures the provision of more equitable and patient-centered care for the elderly.
Also, try not to communicate using complex medical jargon. Use simple words when explaining medical conditions and giving instructions on the treatment plan. Also, be an active listener since communication is a two-way street. You would not want to miss out on something important your patient has to say. Effective communication allows nurses to administer treatment properly, which helps to improve health outcomes.
As a nurse, it’s reasonable that you might not always have patience or experience burnout from caring for several patients at once. For many older adults, this is a difficult time. They are somewhat conscious that their wellness is not as good as it once was.
You must, however, maintain emotional restraint and continue to be compassionate toward all older patients. Your understanding, sympathy, and sensitivity may help them during this difficult time.
Assist your patient with the dressing gowns, and cover them if they unintentionally come to the surface. Always give them a private space, and wait to begin your inspection until the door or curtains are adequately closed and a covering is available. Be patient while checking, and let your patent assent to your action. A little empathy and compassion can go a long way in ensuring your patients feel comfortable with you. This will help you provide better care to them.
Older patients need empathy and compassion when it comes to healthcare. As a nurse, you are responsible for providing them with the best care you can offer. By working on your skills, you can prepare yourself to provide better care to patients in an extremely vulnerable stage of their life. Ensure patients have no trouble coming to the hospital or getting a checkup at home if they can’t see you in person. Get into the habit of speaking to them in a way they can comprehend. Your instructions on paper need details. This makes it easier for them to remember what they have to do. Finally, remember that older patients can be very delicate, and your empathy makes a difference for them. A kind word always goes a long way.