As a medical professional, you may find it challenging to relate to patients who are much older than you. However, since strong interpersonal relationships are essential in a home care setting, you know you’ll need to overcome these multi-generational differences. These tips can help you connect with elderly patients.
Top Strategies to Connect with Elderly Patients
Many of today’s senior citizens grew up during a more formal time. They were expected to dress up for special occasions, follow strict manners, and defer to their elders. As a result, they’ll probably have the same expectations of YOU. Therefore, pay attention to proper etiquette. Unless they tell you otherwise, refer to your patients by their title and last name. Avoid patronizing term like sweetie and honey. And officially introduce yourself. “Hello, Mr. Smith. My name is ____. I’m a certified nursing assistant, and I’ll be helping you out.”
Learn as Much as You Can About Your Patient
When you’re caught up in your patient’s medical needs, sometimes it’s easy to forget that they are people too. Just like you, they have families, interests, and a history. Acknowledging their lives outside of the healthcare system pushes you to be more compassionate. Challenge yourself to learn more about their personal lives. Discovering something you have in common can further improve your relationship. For example, maybe you grew up in the same town? Or maybe you are both Red Socks fans?
Practice Good Communicate Skills
It’s important to listen, truly listen, to what your patients are saying. And unfortunately, a recent study showed doctors interrupted their patients after a median of 11 seconds. Also, keep in mind, many elderly people suffer from memory and/or hearing loss. Thus, speak slowly and clearly. Simplify instructions into non-technical terms and check for understanding. For instance, instead of saying, “Do you have any questions?” Respectfully ask them to repeat any directions back to you. This gives you the opportunity to clarify and/or provide them with additional support.
Offer to Help
If you’re patient is struggling to use their smartphone, don’t laugh behind their back. Give them a hand! They aren’t stupid. They simply don’t have this knowledge yet. The same holds true for everyday activities and medical processes. Ultimately, your positive attitude not only builds rapport but also makes them feel better about themselves.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will get frustrated with your older patients. They may be cranky, uncooperative or disrespectful. Instead of reacting to their behavior in a negative way, take a moment to think about how they feel. They may be in pain, scared or frustrated. Looking at things from another perspective allows you to be more patient and understanding. And if this tactic fails, try these five tips for winning over a difficult patient.
Do You Enjoy Working with Elderly Patients?
Anodyne is urgently hiring caregivers for the elderly in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and beyond. We offer flexible scheduling, a steady income, and great benefits. Check out all our available job openings today!