Nurses have a huge impact on the health and well-being of elderly patients. They are often at the forefront of providing care to older people, especially in nursing homes or hospice care. They need to be aware that their actions can affect how their patients feel about themselves and interact with others. Here are ten ways you, as a nurse, can improve elder patient care:
- Learn to listen
Elders may not always speak clearly or precisely because they may struggle with dementia, but you will still hear them if you listen carefully. They also might forget what they said moments after speaking it. If an elder says something about being lonely or sad, do everything in your power to help them find comfort. The key here is patience and compassion. It’s easy to get frustrated when someone doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say, so don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Instead, take a deep breath, smile, and repeat yourself until they understand.
- Be empathetic
Empathy is essential for a successful career in the healthcare industry. Take the time to ask questions and show that you care. When caring for an elder, it’s easy to forget you’re dealing with a human being. Remembering that each person has feelings, hopes, and fears is crucial when interacting with them.
- Invest in an MSN AGACNP program
An online MSN Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP program can better equip you to care for elderly patients. You’ll learn how to manage their medications and illnesses while ensuring they live out their final days with dignity and grace. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, this field has grown by 15% in the last decade, which means there are more career opportunities than ever for nurses who want to work with elders. As the population ages, this number will only continue to rise. By earning your degree in adult gerontology acute care nursing, you’ll be ready for the future.
- Help them feel safe and secure
One of the worst parts about being sick or frail is losing independence. An elder may resist going to the hospital, even if they suffer from pain. A good nurse understands the importance of helping them feel safe and secure. Assure them you won’t abandon them and that you will be by their side every step of the way. If they seem afraid, ask open-ended questions and encourage them to talk. Listening and encouraging them to express their emotions will make them feel understood and loved.
- Make sure their bed is comfortable
Elders are already vulnerable to pain, discomfort, and anxiety. Ensuring their bed is comfortable will help them feel more relaxed. This includes ensuring they have soft pillows and blankets and their sheets and mattress are clean and odor-free. Ask them if they prefer a particular type of pillow, and then ensure they have access to one. In addition to helping them relax physically, you can also use aromatherapy to ease their minds. Lavender oil can help reduce stress and promote sleep.
- Treat them as individuals
Caring for a patient requires more than just listening to their symptoms and monitoring their vital signs. You need to treat each individual as a unique human being and give them the respect they deserve. If you notice a pattern in how they act, talk to them about it and see what they think. You should also pay attention to their conversations and engage them in meaningful dialogue. Ask them about their life and family members, and learn about things that interest them.
- Create a feeling of normalcy
For seniors living in nursing homes or other long-term facilities, that means ensuring they aren’t constantly reminded of their illness. You can accomplish this in several ways. First, ensure their room is decorated appropriately. Do they like bright colors? Are they drawn to calm pastels or muted earth tones? Second, keep the temperature comfortable. Ensure the air conditioning isn’t too cold and the heat isn’t too warm. Third, play soothing music at night to help them relax and fall asleep. Finally, bring in flowers from time to time or leave a bowl of fresh fruit on the table. These little gestures can make all the difference in the world.
- Communicate with doctors
A good nurse needs to communicate effectively with doctors. Although you know best how to care for your patients, doctors know their bodies and ailments inside and out. Working together will ensure your patient receives the best possible care. If you discover something unusual during your shift, speak up immediately. Don’t wait until later when you’re with another patient. Your honesty could save a life.
- Check their vitals regularly
If you take their vital signs regularly, you’ll be able to catch any changes early. This enables you to provide faster treatment and help them recover sooner. Monitor blood pressure, pulse, respiration, temperature, and other vitals. Ask them if they have any questions about their readings and explain why these numbers matter.
- Ask about their priorities
Although everyone wants to get better, there’s no guarantee. Some diseases are incurable, and some patients face a minimal life expectancy. Take the time to ask your patients about their priorities. You can determine how much treatment they’re willing to undergo. For instance, if they only want to spend time with their children, you can stop trying to cure their condition. This is always a difficult situation, but you must do what’s suitable for the patient.
- Show love and compassion
Don’t forget to show them love and compassion as you care for your patients. Whether they’ve been ill for months or years, they’ve likely lost a lot of weight and spent countless hours in bed. Try to remember that they still deserve to be treated with kindness. It would be wonderful if we could all live our lives free from disease and sickness. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. However, we can strive to provide the best care possible to those who need it most.
- Check on them often
Visit their room frequently, and make sure they know you’re available if they need anything. Ask them how they’re feeling and what they’d like to eat. Bring them fresh towels and washcloths. Offer to carry their laundry downstairs or to run errands for them. These small gestures will go a long way toward improving their mood and making them feel cared for.
Providing quality care to elders is a noble profession in high demand. If you want to change the world for the better, consider becoming a nurse. The elderly are facing unique challenges every day, and it’s up to you to meet them head-on. Follow the advice provided above, and you’ll be able to provide compassionate, personalized care.