Change is a concept that many elderly people are faced with. Depending on the circumstances, change is easier for some people than it is for others. The definition of change might be described as planned or unplanned events that cause the need for modification in one’s life. The elderly often have to adjust to several different situations brought on by the loss of a spouse, deteriorating health, and living arrangements as is the case with PA. PA is grieving the fairly recent loss of a daughter and a son.
Having moved in with one of her daughters who is a single parent of an eleven and thirteen year old son, PA is also adjusting to a change living arrangements. Due to toe amputations, an infection in her right leg and foot, and knee pain, PA also has mobility issues to which she’s trying to adjust. Her mobility issues are further exacerbated by the many stairs in her daughter’s home. PA has additional stress brought on by her inactive status on her Medical Services Plan.
Since the financial situation is the primary concern at the moment, perhaps not enough attention is being given to the changes that PA is experiencing which may be adding to her emotional distress and depression. There are different stages of change just as there is with the grieving process. The first stage of change is identified by the closure of what was and the acceptance of new beginnings. In PA’s case, closure is needed in regards to the death of her son and daughter, leaving her home in St. Lucia, and the decline in her health. The second stage of change is referred to as the neutral zone.
This stage is a bridge between what was and what will be. During this time it would be appropriate for the care giver to talk with the client, discussing her options and possible outcomes. Urge the client to share her fears with you. Chances are, talking with someone who is genuinely concerned for her well-being will play a large part in alleviating her fears. A care giver can help the client to put the changes in proper perspective and help the client make plans. The third stage of change involves implementing the new plans and setting new goals. The care giver can aid the client in developing strategies to implement the new plans.
In addition you can lessen the client’s anxiety by discussing potential problems that may arise and then develop problem solving strategies to counter those problems. Help the client to set small goals first so that they are more achievable and so they won’t cause undo stress. Change is resisted for many reasons. The elderly often have done things a particular way for the majority of their life. They often don’t understand why they should have to change or why their lives have changed. They may ask questions like, “Why did I have to get sick? ” or “Why do can’t I take care of myself?
” These aren’t questions that can be answered and the client knows that. Often these questions crop up as the result of fear of the unknown. The best way to get past that type of resistance is to help the client refocus their attention. Help them look forward to the future and point out to them the things that make their life worth living despite the changes they have to make. Grandchildren are an incentive for many elderly people. Another reasons change is resisted is because the client has lost their sense of control. They may have lived many years and have lots of life experience, but this stage in their life is all new.
New circumstances that bring new types of problems that they’ve never had to deal with before. Also, different people are often introduced to oversee different aspects of a client’s life like housekeeping, cooking, and finances, in addition to her personal care. Although, these people are meant to help, a client may feel resentment towards them. For that reason, it’s important to keep the client involved in all aspects of her life as long as she’s lucid. Keeping the client involved will give her a sense of control and help dissipate her feelings of resentment.
You should work in collaboration with your client through all aspects of the changes. There are certain indicators that will let you know when the client has accepted the changes. • When the client demonstrates an understanding of why the changes were needed. • When the client is actively involved in the changes. • When the client no longer shows resentment. • When the client demonstrates a sense of control. • When the client demonstrates feelings of satisfaction, comfort, and safety. As the care giver you will likely be the facilitator for many of the changes.
There are steps you can take to aid you in helping the client implement these changes. • Use your influence as the client’s care giver to promote the changes. • Ask for and listen to the clients input. • Seek the client’s cooperation. • Persuade the client to compromise on difficult issues. • Develop creative solutions to solve problems. • Develop a game plan for emergency situation. The key is keeping the client involved. Perhaps PA doesn’t like someone else preparing her meals. Suggest that she plan a weekly menu to be followed by whoever is cooking her meals.
PA also prefers using the bathroom rather than wearing attends. You could seek her compromise in this situation by suggesting that she keep a portable toilet in her bedroom. Since mobility is a problem for PA, maybe she would be willing to use a wheel chair or a scooter in the house. If cost is an issue, many charitable organizations loan them out. Stairs are also a problem, but if PA would accept assistance in getting to the living room or even the kitchen or dining room, then she could use a wheel chair or scooter in that room and then she would be able to spend time with her family.
These are just a few examples of how a caregiver can help a client to implement change through compromise and cooperation. Reassure the client that everything will work out and that life will get easier. Change is not easy and problems will likely crop up, but caregivers can make the process a little easier on their clients. The best caregivers are those who are compassionate and have genuine concern for the well being of the “whole” person.
Works Cited Dealing With Change. (1998). Retrieved October 20, 2008, from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service: http://www. oznet. ksu. edu/library/misc2/ep91. pdf
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