Beyond the obvious "hard" skills required of home health care providers, what soft skills do you need to succeed? These five traits are a great place to start.
The good news? There are some things home health workers can do to minimize risk and maximize safety while working in non-hospital settings. Read on for a roundup of five tips aimed at keeping in-home caregivers safe.
If you are interested in a career in health care, but you do not want to spend years in school to reach your goals, choosing a career as a home health aide will put you in a position to be truly helpful to patients and impact the lives of patients and their families for the better. What steps can you take to provide the best home health care possible?
Terry Fulmer, RN, PhD, FAAN, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, observes: "Family caregivers of older adults are almost invisible in our health care system, yet the system could not function without them."
Senior Population Growing Rapidly
Some would argue that there is already a shortage of caregivers to care for the increasing senior population. But statistically speaking, a wider gap is imminent. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2014, there were 46.2 million people in the U.S. over the age of 65. They represented 14.5 percent of the population.
Now, fast forward to projections for the year 2040. By 2040, adults ages 65 and over will account for 21.7 percent of the population. By 2060, it is estimated that 98 million Americans will be 65 or older. That is more than double the number of seniors in America today.
Why Seniors May Become Abusive
First, it is important to understand why aggressive or abusive behavior occurs. In some cases, you may be caring for a senior who has always been a little rough around the edges. As he or she gets older and mental and physical health declines, it may be easy for the senior to slip into anger over a perceived loss of independence, control, and ability.
At other times, abusive behavior can spring from a physical or mental condition, such as pain, hallucinations, medication side effects, or dementia. Such conditions may cause a person who has never exhibited violent tendencies to become aggressive.
AARP's "When Caregivers are Abused" notes that abuse can stem from denial on the part of a senior when he or she is confronted with failing health. Aggression can also come from depression on the part of your loved one. Decreased inhibition may also be a factor, especially for those in early stages of frontotemporal dementia and in later stages of Alzheimer's.
While recipients of home health care and their families provide much anecdotal evidence of the benefits of home care, it is always good to learn about research in provable positive outcomes of utilizing in-home care services.
A recent Harvard pilot program has been designed to explore whether a new home health care coordination program will reduce the number of repeat hospitalizations among seniors using the services of home health agencies.
Understanding What Caregiver Burnout Is
The first step to preventing caregiver burnout is to understand what it is. According to WebMD, caregiver burnout is "a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned."
Since it is much easier to prevent a bedsore than to heal it after it forms, it is important to learn about the risk factors, causes, and treatment of bedsores before they become a serious problem for your loved one.
In some cases, professional caregivers may also encounter significant resistance from a patient who is having trouble adjusting to his or her changed circumstances. Occasionally, this resistance manifests itself in the form of anger or irritability displayed inappropriately toward the caregiver. This, too, can be stressful.