Working in the nursing home as a teenager, I was aware that most of the few family members who ever visited were rude, insulting and angry with the staff. No one ever did anything right. The only problem with that was the fact that it was a year since their last visit. That’s not a really great way to treat those who care for a relative. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Respect: It takes a long time for these men and women to learn the proper techniques of caring for the elderly. It’s a difficult job physically and emotionally. This is especially true when dealing with dementia patients. They deserve respect for handling the day to day care our relatives need.
Asking Questions: Most caregivers don’t mind answering questions. I spend time talking to and asking questions of her caregivers, the med tech and the Activities Director. These questions aren’t because I don’t think they are taking good care of our elder. They’re because I need the information. If they’ve noticed something unusual, it also gives them a chance to raise the question with me so we can handle whatever the problem is.
The answers give me an idea how she is doing fitting in, what her health is like and what I might need to do to make sure our elder is as happy as possible. These questions are not just willingly answered, most want to be asked. It shows you care. It also helps them when the patient has forgotten that you were there just yesterday.
Listening: This is important. When any of the staff asks a question or gives information, it’s important to listen and respond. As an example, somehow our elder got her hands on a pair of scissors. This isn’t allowed and for good reasons. Anything could happen and most of it wouldn’t be good. This particular incident is in limbo as we haven’t found them and neither have the caregivers. Hopefully our elder has forgotten where she put them…
On the Other Hand: This is where many articles about caregivers and patients start, but it is not the norm. There are caregivers that take advantage of their charges. The angriest I’ve ever seen my mother was when she caught a caregiver at the nursing home beating a patient. It is appropriate to ask questions about things if they don’t seem right. Unusual bruises, reactions when certain people walk into line of sight and so forth may require some investigation.
As with the experience mentioned, any caregiver who does this will automatically be fired and very likely arrested. It’s a crime and care facilities will act quickly. They have to in order to maintain their reputations.
The most important thing to remember when talking to caretakers is that they are people. They respond better to the respect they deserve, and will find it easier to handle their duties knowing they have this respect.