Thursday, November 19, 2009

Working with the Elderly

There are some things we should be aware of when working with the elderly, especially when it comes to talking about dying.

Grandma might start talking about dying soon or wanting to talk about her funeral, and what’s our usual reaction? “Oh grandma, don’t talk like that.” That’s the wrong attitude. The next big thing in grandma’s life will be her passing, and she’s thinking about it. She wants to discuss it, to make sure everything is in order. Let her talk. It’s not being morbid, just practical.

I work with the elderly, and another thing I’ve found is that sometimes they think God is punishing them by letting them live for so long or letting them live in a less than desirable condition, such as unable to walk, confined to a nursing home, or in discomfort. It is difficult assuring them that this is not God’s punishment. When you work with the elderly, you should be aware of this belief.

Lastly, you might observe that occasionally the elderly blow things totally out of proportion. You may be shocked by such an inappropriate reaction, yet this is how they perceive things. The reason for this is that they don’t have much going on in their lives. As a result, they have plenty of time to dwell on things, and molehills frequently become mountains.

Make sure the elderly know that you love them, you care, and you want them to be as comfortable as possible. Visit them often, make sure they are getting proper care, and work with their caregivers to let them know you want to be involved in any decisions that are to be made (if you are the appropriate person).

And lastly, be nice to your kids. Remember, they’ll be choosing your home when you’re old.

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