Nursing Across the Generations
Millennials. Gen-Xer's. Baby Boomers and Traditionalists. We have heard the terms, but could understanding these generations help us to connect with our patients at the bedside? Let's learn more about 'Nursing Across the Generations'.
If you read most any blog about how to work with others and you will likely learn about generations. But, have you ever thought about what motivates each generation and how we can use that at the bedside, on the phone or in the homes of those we care for? It has been a very intriguing concept to me lately, so of course, I turned to research! Let's look at the 4 adult generations in the U.S today and find out what makes them tick and how we can use that in our daily practices.
First, what is a generation?
A generation is a group of people born around the same time or raised around the same place. People born around the same time share certain characteristics, preferences, and values. Of course, people are still individuals and are certainly not a "one-size-fits-all" solely based on their generation. But, there are general similarities for those born in the same time period because they experienced the same events or trends around the same age through the same methods of engagement, such as online or on television.
So, how could this information help us when we are attempting to engage with our patients, communicate with them and teach them important self-care tips? Let's explore!
Traditionalists were born in 1945 or before. They have been influenced by World War II, the Korean War, the Great Depression and the Space Age. Their parents survived the Great Depression, so hard times are something they understand. However, later on in their life, they experienced many prosperous years as well. They value dedication, honor and loyalty.
These patients want respect and dignity in this time of their life. They respond best when addressed by Mr., Mrs. or Sir. They like formal communication and want to feel that they are building relationships with caregivers. They may have the same physician for years and years, if possible.
When caring for a Traditionalist, you may notice they appear quiet, disengaged or even stoic. Try to give them space as they are may simply be slow to warm-up to new people, places and experiences. Due to their age, we may overlook their ability to speak for themselves and make their own decisions. Even if they have a spouse, child or other caregiver with them, engage with them when discussing their care. They have lived a long life and want to be respected and understood.
In today's healthcare environment, we are moving at rapid speeds towards technology. This may not be their strong-point. Ensure that you have face to face conversations with Traditionalists in which you speak in clear, concise statements. Provide written instructions when possible. They will feel more confident about their ability to carry out the self-care techniques you taught if they have instructions printed out for their reference.
Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Their generation has been influenced by Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, the Sexual Revolution and Space Travel. Being born after WWII, they grew up to be the radicals of the 70's and the yuppies of the 80's. Being promised the "American Dream" from a very young age, they pursued it.
Baby Boomers as a generation are optimistic and want to take on responsibility. They have been dedicated to their careers for many years and are now learning what it means to be retired. As a patient, they engage best with in person, face-to-face communication. They are typically okay if you call them by their first names, but it is best to ask for permission first if possible.
They like to have a friendly rapport with those they come in contact with and enjoy feeling valued and needed. Having a strong desire to succeed may make it difficult for them to begin to deal with failing health due to the aging process. They have long been a generation who valued independence.
While they can certainly remember many years without computers and cellphones, they have learned how to utilize technology as a means to survive in both their personal and professional lives. However, don't assume either way. Make sure you are providing written instructions and engaging in meaningful face-to-face conversations when possible. If you have the ability to offer them tech-savvy ways of connecting with your facility, be sure to give them the opportunity.
Generation X was born between the years of 1965 to 1976. They were young during Watergate and remember events such as Y2K. They are the first generation of latchkey kids and two family incomes. They grew up being independent and seeing an increase in divorce.
Gen-Xers tend to be direct and use many principles of straight talk. As a generation, they are highly educated and have learned to be technologically savvy, even though they can remember life without computers and cellphones. They value balance, so chronic illness can certainly send them into a tailspin quickly.
They are very good with searching for information on-line and given their desire for independence, may be likely to self-diagnose. Because of their motivations toward success, keep teaching to a formal, structured format with lots of resources. Allow them to ask questions and provide feedback in order to ensure they have learned what you have taught them about self-care.
Millennials or Generation Y were born between 1977 to 2000. They have grown up in the digital age and do not know life without computers, cell phones, tablets and more. School shootings and terrorists attacks have been a common part of their life, along with the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. They are a generation that is savvy to receiving technology. They have grown up as children of divorce and as a generation, want to make the world a better place.
If you will be teaching a Millennial about self-care, be ready and armed with information and aps. They learn through digital and electronic communication. They use email and voicemail and will likely do an online search of their diagnosis before you can get to the room to explain it. Because they are so tech savvy, they are not always the best at verbal communication and may not interact with you when teaching. They are motivated by personal goals, which can be used as a method to engage with them.
Have you ever thought about how to engage with your patients based on their generation or life experiences? This idea is fascinating to me and I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts and stories.
About melissa.mills1117, BSN
Melissa Mills is a nurse who is on a journey of exploration and entrepreneurship. She is a healthcare writer who specializes in case management and leadership. When she is not in front of a computer, Melissa is busy with her husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a fat cat named Little Dude.
Joined: Feb '17; Posts: 94; Likes: 205
Freelance Writer, Nurse Case Manager, Professor; from US
19 year(s) of experienceNov 29, '17Generation who doesn't remember life without computers are the centennials . We did always have video games though. And not communicating face to face is just a trait of rude people. My personal experience caring for millennials they are quieter and I think it's because they're not as used to being sick and didn't expect to be. I personally feel the millennials are extra polite with the please and thank yous. Lower pain tolerance often. Not as many questions as baby boomers because true they prob googled it. Some of the baby boomers seem to have received their MDs from google university though.Nov 29, '17Great article. I care for people of all ages with chronic renal disease. The millenials are usually very sad cases: years of healthcare neglect either due to poverty or parents who just didn't understand the warning signs. At least in my experience, they need more info, not less because (I agree) if they have the resources they do google it. It seems to me too that we (as providers) have to work a little harder to gain their trust/respect as its not as automatic as with the baby boomers who see APRN and automatically know we can provide their care.Nov 29, '17Quote from anewsnsThanks for your comments and personal experiences! ~MelissaGeneration who doesn't remember life without computers are the centennials . We did always have video games though. And not communicating face to face is just a trait of rude people. My personal experience caring for millennials they are quieter and I think it's because they're not as used to being sick and didn't expect to be. I personally feel the millennials are extra polite with the please and thank yous. Lower pain tolerance often. Not as many questions as baby boomers because true they prob googled it. Some of the baby boomers seem to have received their MDs from google university though.Nov 29, '17Quote from traumaRUsVery true, we have to change our bedside manner for how that person perceives us and healthcare in general. Thanks for your thoughts! ~MelissaGreat article. I care for people of all ages with chronic renal disease. The millenials are usually very sad cases: years of healthcare neglect either due to poverty or parents who just didn't understand the warning signs. At least in my experience, they need more info, not less because (I agree) if they have the resources they do google it. It seems to me too that we (as providers) have to work a little harder to gain their trust/respect as its not as automatic as with the baby boomers who see APRN and automatically know we can provide their care.Dec 2, '17I remember life without TV, (we listened to stories on the radio) video games, computers, cell phones, cars with computers in them, bullet trains, & Roombas.Dec 3, '17Quote from FranEMTnurseIt's funny how life continues to change around us each and every day. There are so many changes that we have no choice but to roll with the punches. I'm in my 40's - mid-life everything! - and it is funny to tell me kids about life with cell phones that were in bags, dial-up internet and tv's with no remotes! Can only imagine what stories I will have for my grandchildren (way in the future, of course!).I remember life without TV, (we listened to stories on the radio) video games, computers, cell phones, cars with computers in them, bullet trains, & Roombas.
Thanks for your thoughts and the trip down memory-lane. ~Melissa
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