The Reluctant Patient
The average 75-year-old suffers from at least three chronic medical conditions and takes five or more medications. Oftentimes older people have resigned themselves to a life of suffering and pain. They are not particularly interested in changing or improving their medical condition but are simply waiting out the rest of their life. These people often exhibit a phenomenon known as “the reluctant patient”. They will not listen to medical advice, they have little interest in their own health and they often don’t take their medications properly or they overdose. Doctors and other health professionals treating reluctant patients don’t get the information they need in terms of symptoms or progression of treatment. The patient will typically lie about his or her condition.
It requires a greater understanding from medical professionals and encouragement or sometimes forceful intervention from family to help the reluctant patient understand his or her attitude and participate in his or her medical treatment. The result can often be improved health and a greater quality of life.
Families or others involved with an elderly person must recognize the all too common attitude of worthlessness, defeat and resignation from elderly loved ones and take corrective action. They should encourage and possibly even prod the older person to be stimulated mentally, socially and physically — to be actively involved; to give him or her a purpose for living. But families should also be very careful not to become patronizing or controlling but be genuinely supportive in this process.
- Here are some ideas.
- Make sure an elderly loved one has challenging activities throughout the day instead of simply watching TV or viewing videos. This might include trips to interesting places, visiting senior centers, providing challenging games or puzzles, doing volunteer work, providing an opportunity to be involved in church work, offering stimulating conversation or working on an adult education class or college degree.
- If the person is interested, encourage him or her to become involved in handcraft, genealogies, creative design, writing, scrap booking or other challenging home oriented activities.
- Give them responsibility for taking care of pets such as a dog, a cat or a friendly bird. In addition, if feasible, allow them to care for plants as well. This strategy is used often in nursing homes to reduce depression in the elderly and to actually improve their health as well. It really works.
- If a caregiver for an older person cannot be present, make arrangements to enroll a loved one in adult day care. These providers often offer the same strategies we are talking about here.
- Provide opportunities for family and friends to come by and visit and encourage or even arrange such encounters.
- Provide opportunities for the older person to interact teach and nurture children such as grandchildren or children in a day care center. This is an extremely effective strategy for helping the older person feel that he or she has a meaningful existence. And it has a dramatic impact on improving and maintaining health.
- Design or arrange an exercise program and come up with a way to encourage the older person to follow it.
- Understand the nutrition needs of an older loved one, especially the need for vitamins and minerals including iron. Get some books on the subject or go to the Internet. Make sure the person takes care of him or herself and eats properly. Fixing special meals, providing treats, getting takeout or going out to dinner can be fun and exciting for anyone regardless of age. Many elderly people neglect their own nutrition. Poor nutrition can cause all kinds of mental and physical problems in the elderly.
- Make sure an older person has opportunity to look good and have nice clothing. Make sure the person gets out in public and tries dining out or going to a public event and can feel good about his or her appearance.
The author’s entire article is “The American Perspective on Aging and Health” atwww.longtermcarelink.net
The companion-caregivers at Age at Home Care are experts in providing the care and attention that’s described in this article. Call us today. Davis Allen, Companion, CNA, Age at Home Care, 314-374-0075,firstname.lastname@example.org
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