Ways To Keep Seniors From Feeling Isolated In A Hospice
Most of the time, families transfer an ailing senior citizen to a hospice for good reasons. The adult children may all be working, for instance, and no one can stay at the house to look after his or her elderly parent. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease might sneak out often; that’s why they want him or her in a monitored facility. Alternatively, the aged fellow may have developed a violent streak, to the point that he or she seems dangerous not only for themselves but also for the housemates.
Despite such humane ideas, though, it’s not impossible to see sad seniors in a hospice. Some of them perhaps miss the home they lived in for decades. Others likely feel depressed for not being visited more often by their busy family members.
Gary Gardia, MEd, MSW, LCSW, wrote, “Human hospice these days is struggling, and many have become what I call “compliance obsessed” – sometimes losing sight of a primary focus on patient/family care.” In reality, there’s not much you can do for these people outside of the facility. “While it is important to address the pain and symptoms associated with the illness, it is equally important to “treat suffering” in all of its forms,” said Gardia. Your sole option is to keep these senior citizens from feeling isolated inside the hospice so that they become less homesick.
- Give Them A Responsibility
Hospice residents tend to feel helpless, especially when they seem accustomed to taking care of everyone. Say, an elderly mother used to cook breakfast for the family, although her kids already have families of their own. The aged man probably went to work daily and never had to rely on anyone to live until now. Being in a facility where they’re merely expected to take their medicine and eat their prepared meal, therefore, might render them powerless.
“Consistent with this idea of seniority is the notion that older people should be “retired,” literally to have drawn back from life’s hustle-and-bustle, and more precisely, from the throes of work,” said Thomas Henricks, PhD.
You should realize that nothing good comes out of it. If anything, the situation will weaken the seniors and knock off their confidence. It’s difficult to feel your worth, to be honest, when you can’t do even mundane chores like washing clothes or making the bed.
Because of that, you may consider making them responsible for something useful but also small enough to not tire them out. For example, give the elders herb plants to grow. You can utilize them in the kitchen later, and they’ll feel elated to know that that ingredient came from their plant. Similarly, you may put them in charge of choosing their daily outfit, feeding the resident pets, or painting a picture to decorate the walls.
- 2. Allow Them To Practice Their Faith
It may also enliven the spirits of the elders when they know that they can continue following their religion even at the hospice. After all, the lack of faith is typically standard for millennials or the individuals born in the 80s or 90s. Most people who lived way before that were faithful to one religious sect and believed in God.
A wise decision to make that happen is to drive the elderlies to church every Sunday. In case they find it hard to travel, you may invite a priest or a pastor to hold a Holy Mass at the hospice so that everyone can attend. The spiritual experience may even allow them to live longer, according to studies.
- 3. Make Sure They Can Hear And See Well
Some senior citizens become isolated even if they don’t feel depressed because they have trouble hearing or seeing anyone. These folks may already need hearing aids or a new pair of glasses, but you can’t expect them to inform you of those themselves. Many of them may not even be able to walk or get up from bed without support, so their auditory or visual impairment is perhaps not apparent at all.
The least you can do for the seniors is to ensure that they get both senses tested regularly. By doing so, they have a healthier chance of talking to other people and making friends with everyone in the building.
- 4. Treat Them Like Family
Last but not the least, the elders may not feel so out of place if you start treating them as if they are your aunts, uncles, or grandparents. The facility won’t seem too strange to them once you spend time learning their likes and dislikes. It won’t hurt to stay a bit in the hospice to bond with them either or keep them company. Also, it will be sweet of you to give them small gifts, such as a card, a pot, a flower, or whatever they adore.
Shawn Meghan Burn, PhD, professor of psychology at the California Polytechnic State University wrote that treating an elder as such enables them to form meaningful connection. She says that it may provide “an opportunity for growth and healing in the parent-child relationship. This is a gift to a senior parent and to an adult child—especially if these connections were previously weak or fractured.”
The positive effects of doing all of that will not merely reflect on the elderly, you know. It can make you love your job and care for the seniors more genuinely than ever. Due to that, you’ll be able to serve many people in the hospice for a long time.