Caring for older people takes a special someone, that cannot be denied. We often hear from the elderly and their families that the quality of care in an individual facility is dependent on the carer or nurse rostered on that day.

After speaking with a number of nurses and carers in the field, we have come up with 5 things that every carer can do to make the day of the elderly that often find it hard to do these things themselves.

1. Ensure the resident has their call bell close by

Having the call bell in close proximity for the resident can avoid distress or anxiety for the resident if they need help. It can also prevent any unnecessary falls. If the resident lives with cognitive impairment and is unable to use a call bell then be sure they have an alternative such as a sensor mat.

There is nothing worse for a family member entering their loved one’s room only to find that the call bell is miles away from their loved one.

Just imagine how the resident must feel if this is their only way to communicate. I know I’d feel rather anxious myself.

2. Ensure the resident has water and any other items in reach

Older people are at high risk of dehydration and for many that cannot fill their own jug or walk to the water jug, ensuring that it’s close by will make all the difference to ensure they keep up their fluids.

Every time you enter their room, help them have a few sips throughout the day so that they reach their optimal fluid intake.

3. Position their pillow – are they well positioned in bed

There is nothing worse entering a resident’s room only to find them slumped over and half-way down the bed.

Not only are they at higher risk of choking if they are drinking fluids and not properly positioned but I couldn’t imagine how uncomfortable it must be left in an awkward position for an extended period of time.

This is often a cause for complaints from families also.

4. Ask if they need the toilet

Most residents are living in aged care as they require some assistance. Incontinence for some can be an embarrassing condition. So why not make it easier for the resident and be sure to ask them frequently if they need the toilet or check their continence aids regularly so that they aren’t lying in a mess for a long period of time, and avoid any further embarrassment of having to change the sheets.

5. Ask if they need anything else

Finally – why not ask them before you leave – is there anything else I can help you with?

Sometimes it is the small but thoughtful acts that really show you care that can make all the difference to an elderly person’s day.

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