3 Tips for Working with an Aging Population
The National Institute on Aging and the U.S. Census Bureau revealed in a 2005 report that by 2030, the older population will have doubled in size since the year 2000, with one in five residents being 65 years of age or older. The baby boomer generation accounts for a significant portion of the aging population that is comprised of individuals who are living longer than previous generations but still suffer from chronic health issues.
This growth in older generations means more demand for nurses with certain specializations, particularly those qualified to work with elderly patients who often require special care. If you’re considering a career as an MSN who specializes in older patient care, take a look at these three tips for working with an aging population.
Be Culturally Aware
Aging patients often require more complex care than other types of patients, so there is no room for barriers of any kind that could result in subpar care. For that reason, it is important that nurses be open to learning about different cultures in order to provide the best care possible. You can manage a patient’s care better if you are familiar with his or her lifestyle, family expectations, or other cultural norms that can help you understand their situation.
You may also consider learning another language so that you can avoid communication barriers. There are many Spanish-speaking elderly people who will require care, as well as countless first-generation immigrant families from all over the world who may end up in your facility.
Learn Effective Communication
Trying to talk with an elderly patient may seem like an uphill battle at times, but there are ways to make it easier on both of you. Before you even enter the room, plan on spending extra time with an aging patient. They’ll often want more information from you than younger patients may ask for, and they might take longer to process what you have to tell them. Cover one topic at a time, allow them to ask questions, and listen to their concerns.
Any patient wants to feel as if they have your undivided attention, but that’s especially true for older people. Avoid distractions like phones or computers, and sit face to face with them, maintaining natural eye contact.
Understand How to Help Manage Depression in Patients
Image via Flickr by Alyssa L. Miller
It’s not uncommon for aging patients to report feeling depressed as they grow older. As their health fails, they lose independence, and often feel worthless or even abandoned by family. As a nurse, you’ll need to be able to treat these patients with an outstanding level of sympathy and compassion that could require you to go above and beyond your normal care routines. For example, you can try to keep your patient’s mind and body active by playing board games or taking them out for walks.
As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the need for qualified health professionals, especially nurses, who know how to properly care for them is growing. As patients begin to live longer, their healthcare needs become more complex, making it necessary for health facilities to seek out talented nurses who can meet these challenges head-on while remaining compassionate and understanding.