Communicating with the Elderly

  1. I am a brand new nurse's aide, I finished school 3 weeks ago and my state exam is on May 31. I work at the LTC facility where I did my clinicals, in a really awesome private pay unit portion of the campus. I love everyone I work with, and I love how much I am learning.

    Yesterday was my second day of training in my unit. I work the night shift, and when it came time to begin the morning tasks with the residents, I was given 3 residents to get up, washed and ready for their day. Most of the 22 residents on our unit have some degree of dementia, and I am still getting a handle on where everyone is at, because they are sleeping for most of our shift and my interaction with them is fairly limited. What I have noticed is that the patients seem a bit perplexed when I am asking them questions, like, would you like to wear the pink or the blue today? etc. I got that feeling on two of the three residents I worked with, and I am wondering if perhaps I am overwhelming them My question is, do any of you have some tried and true communication tips for me? Are there any books that I could read to help me communicate better with the residents? Is this more a deal where I need to be patient and get to know the residents better and then I will better understand each individuals limitations?

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Visit medsurgtrenchesRN profile page

    About medsurgtrenchesRN

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 40; Likes: 12
    Med-Surg RN, RN supervisor


  3. by   adorblepuppy
    Sometimes they can not decide for them selves what they want to wear. I know it teaches you in class to ask them. But some of the residents i had when i worked at the nursing home could not decide. So we basicly decided for them. I know what you mean about trying to talk to them. Like ones who can't speak. You can only think of so much stuff to say. Anyway i wish you luck on your test.
  4. by   fuzzywuzzy
    Yeah, a lot of them can't handle making a decision like that. It's too overwhelming. Just ask rhetorical questions- "How about the blue shirt today?" and then put it on.

    Same thing goes for if you want to get anything else done. New aides always say, "Do you want to go to the bathroom/shower/whatever?" Seasoned ones say, "It's time for your shower now" with much better results.
  5. by   rachelgeorgina
    I work on a unit with residents with dementia. & one thing I've learned is that generally, confused patients respond better to closed directions rather than open ended questions. When I'm choosing their clothes for the day I'll generally pull them out of the wardrobe/draw and say something like, "this is a pretty shirt. Why don't you wear this one today?" If they're exceptionally confused, they'll look at me blankly and comply or just nod and if they're got some of their wits about them, they might tell me what they really think!
  6. by   Qbert
    It always helps to assess your resident, even when waking up. Ask a couple simple questions like, (Do you know where you are right now?) (What year is it?). Try to orient them to the time and date and where they are.
    It will help YOU determine if they are able to make simple or complex decisions at all.Ask yes/no questions instead of from a selection. Giving too many options can confuse them.

    Sometimes you need to be assertive (some people always answer no to your questions).
    (would you like me to clean your mouth?) vs (OK, I'm going to clean your mouth out now.)
    insist your care will be quick and wont hurt. to help with compliance.

    Hope this helps