Caregivers deal not only with their patient’s needs but also with their attitudes and sometimes challenging behaviors.
Providing care for the sick and elderly is a noble calling. Not all are qualified or destined to be caregivers. Some found themselves trading their career for caregiving responsibilities, like Ellie Gaccetta, author of the memoir One Caregiver’s Journey. Aside from documenting her amazing journey to becoming a family caregiver, One Caregiver’s Journey is Eleanor’s guide book for caregivers. One notable highlight of the book is the patient-caregiver relationship, and caregivers are expected to adjust to their patient’s behavior and attitude. The connection is not always smooth-sailing for professional caregivers as they often have to deal with challenging behaviors and attitudes.
Senior and elderly patients can be dear and pleasant, but sometimes they can display challenging behaviors for caregivers.
Illness can change people regardless of their age and background, especially when in pain and discomfort. The same can be said with elderly people. Many seniors suffer difficulty in moving around, performing basic tasks, and socializing with others. They are prone to worries and fears, which can take a toll on their behavior. Now, combined with an illness with old age, you get angry, irritable, and sometimes hostile individuals who need love and care at the end of the day.
List of Common Challenging Behaviors and Attitude Caregivers Encounter in Patients, according to https://familycaregiversonline.net/education/behavior-and-emotions-of-aging/:
· Combativeness, aggressiveness
· Restlessness and wandering
· Mood swings
· Over-controlling behavior
· Critical and demanding behavior
Many of these behaviors and attitudes are not innate in patients; mostly, these are just products of their pain, fatigue, confusion, fear, and adjustment to a new environment. Medication and its side effects also play a huge role in these challenging behaviors. Other factors might include lack of proper nutrition, sensory loss, and anxiety.
Though it is not always easy, every patient-caregiver relationship can constantly improve for the better, given time and proper handling.
Every great relationship requires time, patience, and effort. This can be a bit challenging for caregivers and their patients to achieve. There are many cases in which patients display problematic behaviors and attitudes. And it’s only a matter of time before a caregiver’s patience runs out. In many instances, tempers flare, offensive words are uttered, and in worse scenarios, hostility ensues. In all these challenges and issues, it falls on the caregiver to make the necessary adjustments. As professionals and individuals with a healthier disposition, caregivers must initiate the moves to create a pleasant and comforting atmosphere for patients and the elderly. Below are some tips on how to manage patients displaying challenging behaviors.
Never Show a Defensive Stance. Whenever a patient throws a tantrum, it’s always ideal not to get defensive but instead respond with care and concern. A great caregiver is always watchful of their body language to not give the impression that they are getting on your nerves.
Be A Good Listener All the Time. Sometimes all these displays of attitude and rude behaviors are a cry for help or wanting to get attention. So, extend your patience and let them open up to you, and when they do, be a good listener and comfort them. A patient needs a caregiver, but there are times when all they need is a friend.
Do Acknowledge the Situations. In every incident or episode, always look for the root cause and acknowledge the situation objectively. Subjective thoughts and approaches will not improve a patient-caregiver relationship. Always seek to calm every situation and calm all emotions.
Set Boundaries and Be Proactive. They say familiarity breeds contempt. That said, caregivers must set boundaries. Know when to engage, cut off sessions, reach out, or give patients personal space. Caregivers must recognize a patient’s trigger points and implement de-escalation techniques.
Be Positive, Kind, and Respectful. The best way to handle difficult patients with challenging behaviors is to maintain a positive outlook. Being consistently kind and continuously extending one’s patience are also essential traits caregivers must possess and execute every day.