Everyone who works in long term care or assisted living comes in contact with patient behaviors that could potentially precipitate negative or abusive caregiver response. These behaviors are generally related to a medical condition and can include such things as calling out, swearing, racial slurs, striking out, grabbing or refusing necessary care.
Rule number one is always remaining calm.
Many difficult patient behaviors are fear based. When the personal care staff realize this and appreciate that the behaviors are associated with a medical condition, this makes responding appropriately easier. By building a trusting relationship with each patient, knowing what things are upsetting to the patient, and by being familiar with warning signs that a patient is becoming upset, it is possible to prevent most disordered behavior. This Personal Care Aide e-Text provides ways to prevent the escalation of destructive behaviors as well as guidelines for caregivers on how to reduce negative and abusive responses, should these behaviors be encountered.
The online Personal Care Aide course at CertifiedCare.org makes a number of valuable suggestions to prevent and reduce negative responses. Personal Care staff learn in this program how to relate to elderly patients displaying these behaviors. The CertifiedCare e-Text explains that knowing your patient will help you decide the most appropriate way to handle a verbal or physical outburst. For some patients distraction or re-direction works, for others, simply walking away and coming back several minutes later is the solution. The family caregiver course also teaches many other strategies including: the importance of knowing when to get help; safety issues and, the emotional cost of dealing with difficult and challenging behaviors.
Phyllis Brostoff, president of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, who has worked with the elderly and their families for 40 years, talked with U.S. News about ways to cope with caregiving. She suggests that caregivers acknowledge what’s going on. It’s not always apparent to caregivers how they’re being affected by their responsibilities or their loved one’s changing condition. Particularly in cases of early dementia, when someone’s mental faculties may initially wax and wane in and out of lucidity, a caregiver may feel irritated at having to answer the same question multiple times. “Sometimes the person doesn’t realize they’re being [verbally] abusive,” says Brostoff. Adjusting to and mourning the decline of someone you rely on can be very sad and emotionally taxing, she adds. So if you find yourself feeling as if you hate the person you’re caring for, says Brostoff, take it as a sign to get some assistance.