The challenges of caring for the elderly are numerous and unique. “I think it requires expertise because geriatrics is a specialty in itself. It requires nurses to be well trained in general education, but they know all the specificities associated with care for the elderly, “says Sylvie Rey, nurse specializing in gerontology and geriatrics, working at the shelter in Pont Rouge.
These features include comorbidity, that is, the presence of several chronic diseases in the same patient (such as diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, etc.). “When you come with a client who has five illnesses and takes 10 medications, it’s more complicated … It requires a great adaptability of the nurses,” says Philippe Voyer, professor and researcher in nursing Université Laval, which states that care for the elderly is therefore more specialized. “You have to know how to make the link between your pathology, your history, your medication … we must take all of this into consideration in our assessment,” explains Manon Turcotte, nurse specializing in care for the elderly, working at the Hospital Blessed Sacrament.
The human before the patient
Nurses must take into account the patient’s history and psychological state. For example, it is possible that a person who has opposed the medication all his life, and must now take six tablets a day refuses to take his medication. A person may also refuse to receive a bath if it has never been worn on hygiene. “We work with people who have a personality before the disease [premmorbid],” says Manon Turcotte, who reminds us that we tend to forget the personality of people with dementia.
And that’s one of the biggest challenges of caring for the elderly, according to Turcotte. Unlike younger patients, the elderly have psychological symptoms well before the physical symptoms. “An adult is going to have a urinary tract infection, it is going to make temperature, or it will feel pain. The elderly person will have a temperature that will seem normal, and the pain will not be verbalized. What will happen, for example, is that the person will fall; it will have a disorganization of thought. One can then believe that she is suffering from dementia, but by checking, one realizes that it is a completely different problem, like an infection, “explains Manon Turcotte.
Working with relatives
As these symptoms are less obvious, the nurse works with caregivers and in partnership with several health care providers, including physicians, nutritionists, social workers and psychologists. “Since 2003-2004, the nursing profession has changed in Quebec, and now there are skills reserved for it, in particular everything related to health assessment. It made it necessary to review the organization of work, to know who does what in the team, “explains Sylvie Rey. Manon Turcotte and Sylvie Rey recall that the role of the nurse does not replace that of the doctor or pharmacist, for example, but must be done in partnership with others. The nurse also ensures communication between stakeholders, including providing information on the patient’s health record. It also directs the patient to the most appropriate resource.
The nurse is the first person who comes into contact with the patient when entering the health care system, whether at home, in the hospital or on the front line. With the patient, she creates “a bond of trust, which is human, but also expert,” says Philippe Voyer, whose research focuses on long-term care. For the care of the elderly, the creation and maintenance of this connection is essential to ensure good diagnosis and good treatment of patients.
It is also useful for communicating effectively with caregivers. In particular, nurses will provide information about the disease to allow relatives to understand the symptoms, treatment and side effects of medications. At home, nurses may suggest facilities (such as grab bars and bath mats) that would allow the elderly person to better move around the home. If you are living Denver Colorado metro area United States of America, and you have issues in finding the right option of assisted living Denver www.stacyshelpinghand.com visit then Stacys Helping Hand, Inc to find out the right facility for your seniors near you in metro area.