Working with the elderly is quite different from working with patients of other ages. With age, their health declines and they develop hearing impairment, weaker eyesight, memory, and physical strength. Providing the best care becomes challenging when these limitations exist. While a person can live an additional 19.5 years after reaching 65, the Centers for Disease Control reports, they would need high-quality care to achieve this level of longevity without discomfort.
Individuals who can offer the right level of care to these elderly patients are skilled gerontology nurses. Their educational background prepares them to assist elderly patients, and the courses help them polish the skills they must use daily. If a nurse is skilled, they bring a competitive edge to her field and isn’t that what everyone wants, to excel in their careers? One can accelerate their nursing career by acquiring the following skills:
Nurses in any role must be skilled in effective communication as they are responsible for patients’ lives. However, while caring for elderly patients, they need to be more efficient as they need to decipher their messages. Moreover, elderly patients often come with a plethora of issues. Therefore, a collaborative approach between different departments and medical professionals is needed to offer them the right level of care.
Nurses have to share their patient’s reports with other doctors and nurses from across the hospital. Therefore, an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner should be accurate in communication. They must communicate all the facts promptly to receive positive patient outcomes. Any misinterpretation of data or time wasted in sending the reports across the department can be fatal for patients’ health. Communication with interdepartmental teams is not the only requirement for gerontology nurses. The families have the right to know how their patient is doing, what treatments they are receiving, and how they respond to various medications. Nurses also have to support the families and patients emotionally and give them hope in their lives and better days.
If you lash out at people and can’t tolerate their irresponsive behavior, the job of an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner might not be for you. Easily getting irritated will land you nowhere in this profession that demands the highest tolerance levels. Therefore, the more patient you are in your approach, the more are your chances to gain the trust of your skeptical patients. Elderly patients are at an age level where simple understanding matters become a little complicated. So, they often make it difficult for you to care for them.
A gerontology nurse must remain patient and listen to the elderly when they try to make a point of their incoherent speech. You have to pay attention, face them when talking, and maintain eye contact. These small changes in your behavior send a positive message that you are listening and what they say holds value. This interplay of respect and patience can garner immense support and participation from your patients.
In addition to the patients, nurses need to be enduring when communicating with the families. They often have a hard time understanding the condition of their loved ones. Your relaxed and welcoming behavior can help them get through their difficult time.
Compassion And Love
At the later stages of our lives, many of our needs resemble children. Like kids, elderly patients struggle to manage their health and vitality and need the help of young people. So, they need compassion as much as the kids do in childhood. The love and understanding of gerontology nurses help them heal faster. You may need to help your patients walk, eat, take a bath, or change their clothes. But simultaneously, you have to be considerate about their sense of pride and self-esteem, autonomy, and desire to control their lives. As much you are more aware of the medical condition, you have to give them at least an illusion of control. Take their input in simple matters like when they want to walk, eat, watch TV, or what they want to wear. These simple acts give them a sense of autonomy, and their self-esteem remains intact. Your compassionate approach is immensely needed even they are not responsive or particularly surly during your duty.
Knowledge Of Elderly Health Issues
One illness often starts a chain of events in senior patients, giving way to more conditions. You might know what new diseases are bubbling up inside them when they are in the hospital for treating one ailment. Therefore, the knowledge of senior issues is fundamental. Many patients simultaneously manage Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, and much more. To address these issues in elderly patients all at once and prevent them from worsening, you need extensive knowledge of your work area.
Making the patients comfortable during the treatment
Maintaining the patients’ comfort during the treatment is the duty of the adult gerontology nurse practitioners. Make sure to brief them about the treatment in the simplest words to prepare them for the treatment. The nurses have to ensure there are no side effects or undue pain. You might have to take them for a walk frequently, talk to them to distract their attention and prevent unnecessary suffering.
Nurses can reduce the pain with painkillers and other medications, but this is just one part of the treatment. Much more important is your cordial and affectionate relationship with them. So, you have to create an environment where they feel at ease.
Attention to details
A significant part of treating elderly patients is preventive care. Your attention to detail can help you highlight the changes in their condition and take prompt measures. Moreover, you have to tune in to the patient charge, enquire about their health, conduct regular examination and look for any signs of medication reactions or side effects. Ensure no two antagonistic drugs are given to them to exacerbate their condition.
Elderly patients demand more care and attention, just like kids. They are more dependent on the nurses and even need help with the simpler tasks like changing clothes, eating, and walking. Therefore, the job of an adult-gerontology nurse is very complicated and challenging. They have to provide the best care to the patients, communicate effectively, and adhere to the highest standards of care. But all together, they have to uphold to highest levels of respect and maintain their patient’s dignity and self-esteem.