One aspect of President Ronald Reagan’s presidency that doesn’t get too much acknowledgment was his commitment to seniors. Among other efforts, he declared the first National Senior Citizen Day in 1988, an occasion that has been observed on Aug. 21 for more than 30 years. He also encouraged everyone to be more respectful to their elders, including friends, family members, and caregivers.
The team at Accredited Home Care is happy to continue this commitment to seniors in our communities by looking for opportunities to celebrate them. We love seniors, and we also love that many of our employees also like spending time around them.
Certainly, it’s part of the job caregivers, nurses, aides, and others in the home health profession, and we also have some clients who aren’t seniors, but it makes all of us feel good to know that we’re making life better for everyone we work with.
Some of the reasons why we value our seniors include:
- They have plenty to share. Someone in their 60s, 70s, 80s, or longer will have all sorts of interesting experiences in life. And the good thing is that everyone’s story is going to be a little different. This means that every client we work with has something unique to share about where they grew up, where they worked and studied, their family and friends, and all the circumstances that got them where they are today. They also have had other unique moments in life as well that they may enjoy telling us about, such as certain memories, adventures, or collections they’re proud of.
Certainly, some of our clients may not share all of this information right away with caregivers, especially if they’ve only met some of them a few times, but spending enough time together can make everyone more comfortable conversing and sharing.
- They provide everyone value. Some of our clients may not have family nearby or even many surviving family members. Their physical or mental health also may make it challenging to go outside and socialize with others. So, our home health team and therapists can provide opportunities to talk and share with each other. Some of our staff also may not have their parents or grandparents around anymore, or at least have them be in the same area, so everyone enjoys the chance to connect with each other. By providing quality care to their clients, it’s not unlike taking care of their own loved ones even if they aren’t able to do so in person.
- It can help cross-generational communication. Some of our younger staff may not have the chance to talk with all that many elderly people beyond their own family members or maybe a neighbor or two. But working with a client can be a positive experience for everyone. They can each learn basics about each other’s lives and culture, everything from basic values to favorite music. This dialogue can reduce any sort of generation gap as people learn similarities and find common ground.
- Connecting can help a client’s mental health. It’s easy for clients, seniors especially, to begin to feel isolated and lonely. This can often quickly move into depression and anxiety. For those unfamiliar with depression, the condition goes beyond “feeling a little sad sometimes.” It means having strong feelings that don’t go away for weeks or months, often accompanied by pain and fatigue. Depression can also be further aggravated by a lack of exercise which is also common in people unable or unwilling to leave their homes.
- Open the door to future opportunities to connect. Many family members regret not hearing all of a parent or relative’s life story, since it’s easy to say, “maybe later” or “no time.” But a home health care employee can help with the encouragement. Since there are so many ways to chronicle memories, a client can write things down, answer questions in a book for this purpose, or record themselves on video or audio. Home health employees can ask questions like “how’s your chronicling going?” whenever they come by, especially if they visit weekly or more frequently. This gentle reminder can be good motivation and have a great result for family members: a book or recording of special memories.
- Connecting gives everyone something to look forward to. For some seniors, connecting with their home health staff may be the only interaction with people they may encounter regularly, especially if they don’t or can’t go anywhere safely. They can look forward to regular scheduled visits, even if it’s just a check-up or check-in. Likewise, a caregiver may also enjoy these visits to certain clients with who they’ve created solid friendships. Yes, it’s their job to provide this case, but these visits can also be enjoyed. They know they’re giving joy to their clients, and they also get joy out of it themselves.