Interpreting the Unsaid...
Having worked in geriatrics for more than a decade, i can tell you that it is one of the most fascinating fields of nursing. Due to all the normal changes that takes place physically in the human body, coupled with disease processes and psycho social changes, it is of utmost importantance that you get to know your elderly patient very well. You should spend time listening to their stories even if it makes no sense to you. This helps to develop a relationship. This means spending time to chat and reassure patient of your love and care for them and maintaining a positive, warm and confidential attitude at all times. TLC is the name of the game.
It takes a longer time to understand the elderly patient as you have to work through all the mood swings, demanding phases and even episodes of withdrawal. Outburst at staff and aggressive behavior is usually not what it sounds like or appears to be rather it is a cry for your love and attention and most often just a call for someone to come and sit and listen, really listen from your heart to what they are feeling and reliving at that said moment
Elderly persons especially in a nursing home setting can become very jealous and vie for your attention if for one second they think or believe that you are giving more attention or time to another patient. So the next time your elderly patient has an outburst of negative behavior, Unwrap your TLC package:
- Assess the situation
- Give soft loving words of reassurance
- Do not be judgmental it makes the outburst worse
- Reassure them of your love; after all you are the one they relate to on a daily basis
- It is not a personal attack on you but a cry for your attention
- Body gait and facial expression can carry a different message if you appear cold and distant
- Try to carry a reassuring smile; hold hand if possible and remain silent for as long as possible and let them know you are indeed listening to their call
- Listen to the unsaid words that says, "tell me you love me and I am important to you"
- Do not take sides or pass judgment or be critical in any way; what they really need is reassurance of your love
- Never tell them that they are rude or naughty in any way rather assure them that all will be well and things will work out
Listen with your heart and hear that cry for your love and attention and in a tender loving way give as much as you can and be consistent. It does not matter what mood your elderly patient is in as a health professional and the caregiver, you have to remain professional at all times, and wear that smile, say those loving words and show love no matter what.
It works, and to foster this type of relationship with your elderly patient will help their golden years to be the happiest and most fulfilling they ever had and that is the goal of geriatric nursing. They and their family will appreciate that.