8 Mistakes to Avoid in Elder Care - Step To Health

8 Mistakes to Avoid in Elder Care

Elder care is a demanding activity that requires a good attitude, as well as sufficient information and planning. Learn more in this article!
8 Mistakes to Avoid in Elder Care

Last update: 02 November, 2021

Elder care requires willingness and readiness. Unless they have a serious illness and require special attention, making life easier for an older person doesn’t require any special skills.

It’s important to be clear that caregiving is about helping them feel comfortable and loved, as well as helping to make some daily activities easier for them. This may seem simple, but it’s based on a lot of patience and responsibility.

When caring for older adults also involves some basic nursing tasks, it’s important to be well informed and look for methods that make the task easier. It’s very satisfying to contribute to the well-being of the older person, and this is worth the effort!

Elder care: Caring for older adults

Caring for older adults focuses on three fronts.

The first is personal care, which includes grooming, dressing, feeding, and physical activity.

The second is health care, which includes taking medications and medical appointments.

The third front is emotional care, and this is the one that tends to involve the most errors. This is a demanding area, as it’s common for older people to be stubborn in some ways or to have symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Taken together, this is a lot of activities and it’s an arduous task. However, it becomes more difficult if you don’t have the right attitude. This not only helps to make the work less tiring, but also creates a positive and cooperative environment for the older person.

Mistakes to avoid in elder care

Overall, there are some common mistakes in elder care. The best thing to do is to avoid them in order to prevent difficulties and to perform the task to the best of your ability. Among the most common mistakes are the following.

1. Failure to be adequately informed

First of all, it’s important to have good information about the patterns of aging in general and about the person in particular. Regarding the former, there are aspects that are common to this stage of life. Learning about this helps to understand the needs of the person being cared for.

Also, each older adult has his or her own characteristics. Their desires, plans, temperaments, difficulties, and limitations are very particular. Knowing them well facilitates your work.

Enfermera den el cuidado de un adulto mayor.
Those who take care of older adults must know the particularities of each case.

2. Lack of planning

It’s a good idea to plan all the activities involved in the care of older adults very well. One of the most common mistakes is the failure to establish consistent routines. A good plan gives security to the elderly person.

The plan should include schedules for eating, physical activity, and recreation. Likewise, the dates and times for taking medicines and medical appointments should be detailed. Also, special dates and outings are important if the person is in a nursing home.

3. Impatience is a mistake to avoid in elder care

The slow speed of an older adult to perform some activities may irritate the caregiver, especially if there’s too much to do and not enough time. Also, the caregiver may be stubborn about minutiae or even hostile at times.

Caring for older adults requires a lot of patience. Be prepared for tense situations and deal with them intelligently. It’s a very good idea to do everything with plenty of extra time and not to overload their routine.

No matter what, the best thing to do is to stay calm.

4. Over-attendance is another mistake to avoid in elder care

Next, it’s necessary to understand that good care is not synonymous with overprotection.

Part of the task is to help the other person to preserve as much autonomy as possible. Therefore, it’s important to encourage them to do everything on their own that does not require assistance.

In this regard, it’s important to have good communication with their doctor. He or she will determine what specific limitations an older adult has. Sometimes they think they can’t do something, when in fact they are perfectly capable of doing it.

5. Know when to disregard complaints

An important part of elder care is listening skills. While it’s true that some older adults tend to complain, it’s also true that there are often some unmet needs that are implicit in those complaints.

Complaints should not be ignored. It’s also important to learn how to interpret them. Sometimes they’re the result of anxiety or sadness, and just listening to them can make that person feel better.

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6. Preventing falls 

Falls are one of the latent risks faced by older adults. Many times this risk is only recognized when it’s too late. However, falls are often very serious situations.

Thus, it’s always best to prevent them. Part of caring for older adults is making sure they’re wearing the right shoes, that all areas are well lit, with non-slip mats and safety bars in the bathroom. They also need to be helped to maintain muscle strength in their legs.

7. Failure to communicate

It’s not uncommon for an older adult to suddenly say something that doesn’t make sense. Or they may claim something is true when it’s clearly not. In those cases, it’s not a good idea to get into an argument with them.

Also, older adults often have trouble listening or sometimes can’t find a way to make themselves clearly understood. Always remain calm, speak to them clearly and with good vocalization.

8. Lack of stimulation is crucial to avoid in elder care

Caring for older adults involves not only preventing health problems or accidents, but also contributing to a better quality of life and overall well-being. This implies carrying out activities that provide them with adequate intellectual and emotional stimulation.

It’s important to go out with them to places where they feel comfortable. If possible, promote socialization with the family or people of their age. Also, engage in enjoyable activities, such as gardening, arts and crafts, or reading.

Pintura para adultos mayores.
Recreational activities are an integral part of care for older adults.

Helpful tips on caring for older adults

Finally, some actions that can be taken to facilitate the care of older adults include the following:

  • Make a needs assessment: Establishing what that person needs is useful in order to design an action plan.
  • Make family agreements: Each family member should assume some share of the responsibility.
  • Draw up a safety plan: This consists of making an inventory of the possible risks and establishing a plan of action for each one of them.
  • Encourage the adoption of hobbies: These are very good for older adults.
  • Help them maintain social contact: It’s good to contact people close to them from time to time to prevent isolation.
  • Have occasional touches: An older person will appreciate it if the caregiver leaves some special touches from time to time.
  • Highlight virtues and abilities: It’s important to emphasize everything they’re capable of doing and celebrate their achievements.

Caregivers of older adults should take care of themselves

Overall, it’s clear that caregiving for older adults is a demanding task. However, it can be made easier with good planning. No matter what, the caregiver must also preserve space and periodically take breaks or rest from caregiving.

It’s necessary to be aware that an older person is in a natural phase of losing his or her skills and abilities. The caregiver can help slow this down, but not prevent it.

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