Only small portions of Louisiana’s senior population are frail, sick, or idle. It is a myth that the elderly are resistant to change, largely senile, or unable to learn new tasks. However, it is clear to any healthcare professional responsible for giving instructions to geriatric patients that they often learn more slowly than other adults. Following, we will discuss some of the characteristics of geriatric patients that impair the ability to quickly absorb important information. You will see that the structure of home health services is ideal for patient teaching and increasing compliance. Whether your geriatric patient receives new instructions in the office or in the hospital, the teaching services of Pulse Home Health Care can improve understanding, compliance, and health.
Fear of embarrassment or fear of frustrating others makes geriatric patients less likely to vocalize a need for more or different teaching. When seniors are not fully perceiving or retaining your instructions, they give a number of subtle signs.
If you notice one or more of these signs from a geriatric patient, consider a referral to Pulse Home Health Care to verify retention of and compliance with important health instructions and to continue teaching if indicated. Pulse nurses and therapists specialize in geriatric health, and education plays a very large role in their services.
Pulse nurses employ proven methods for overcoming impairments in hearing, sight, and working memory. Strategies such as sitting closer to the senior, using a lower tone of voice, making sure the senior can clearly see the lips of the speaker, and combining verbal presentations with printed material all facilitate effective learning.
A less obvious consideration in geriatric education is mood and motivation. With the prevalence of subtle depression, drowsiness from medication, and/or fatigue from chronic disease, the geriatric patient’s motivation even to try to learn the new information must be assessed first. Often times, identifying a personal goal such as attending a graduation or working in the garden and then connecting the health teaching with that goal is the first step to effective communication.
Ultimately, effective teaching for geriatric patients revolves around repetition over a number of days, sufficient time investment, and diligent verification of understanding and adherence. Please consider a referral to Pulse Home Health Care any time your patients may benefit from additional instruction regarding new medications, medication administration, a new diet, chronic disease management, or any other health issue.