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Caring for an Aging Population

Posted on January, 20, 2017 by admin

As an STNA, you will likely care for some elderly patients. This is due, in part, to the fact that the United State’s population is getting older each year. In fact, by the year 2060, the number of Americans over aged 65 or older will be more than double what it is today. This means there will be about 96 million individuals aged 65 or older in the United States by the year 2060. When caring for elderly patients, there are a few important tips you should always follow.

1. Be Gentle!

Elderly individuals are often more susceptible to injury than younger individuals. This is primarily because aging leads to brittle bones and thinner, less elastic skin. Our bones become more brittle as we age because they lose the minerals, such as calcium, that keep them hard and strong. Our skin becomes thinner and less elastic as we age because it loses collagen. As a result of their brittle bones and thin skin, elderly patients may be injured by events that would not injure a healthy young person. For example, the removal of medical tape from skin may cause a wound. By taking your time in treating your elderly patients and being as gently as possible, you can help them to stay safe!

2. Speak Up!

If you believe your elderly patient is ignoring you or not paying attention, try speaking up. Many elderly patients suffer from hearing loss. If you detect hearing loss in a patient, you may wish to recommend that he or she see a doctor. Being outfitted with a properly-functioning hearing aide can greatly increase a hard-of-hearing patient’s quality of life.

3. Be Patient!

Everyday tasks that are easy for healthy young people may pose a serious challenge for the elderly. This is because our muscles lose a great deal of their strength once we are over the age of 65. If a patient needs to rest in the middle of a task, be as accommodating as you can be. On a related note, don’t jump right in and take over the task unless you are asked to do so. Taking away a patient’s independence can greatly harm his or her morale. Instead, just be patient and help when asked.

As you care for elderly patients throughout your career, we hope you’ll follow the tips outlined above. Best of luck as you begin your long as successful career as an STNA!

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