Why Is Patience Important When Working With The Elderly?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Patience is important when when working with elderly adults because they need more time to process information, can get overwhelmed easily, and dealing with more than you probably understand. Learn more about the necessity of patience.

patience when helping elderly

Patience is important when when working with elderly adults because they need more time to process information, can get overwhelmed easily, and dealing with more than you probably understand. Learn more about the necessity of patience.

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They say that patience is a virtue and never has that been more true than when you’re working with the elderly. As you age, different parts of your body start to slow down, and it takes longer for wounds to heal and muscles to recover.

Whether you’re a healthcare professional, family member, or friend, patience goes a long way, and you have to put yourself in their shoes to understand what they’re going through.

It’s not always easy to have patience when you’re dealing with someone who is slower to do things or forgetful, but it’s important to remember that their quality of life matters just as much as yours does.

With a bit of understanding and patience, you can make the elderly feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin.

This article is part of my “Importance of Elders” series that features 50+ articles on keeping seniors and the elderly happy and healthy so that we can have them in our lives longer. See the entire series here.

Why Caregivers Need Patience When Working With The Elderly?

Here is why you should exercise patience when assisting the elderly:

Seniors Need More Time to Process Information

One of the biggest reasons why patience is so essential when working with seniors is because they need more time to process information. This can be frustrating for those who are used to making decisions quickly, but it’s important to remember that their brain is just taking a little longer to do its job.

When talking with a senior, take the time to explain things clearly and slowly. If they don’t understand something, be prepared to repeat yourself or, better yet, try a different approach. It’s also helpful to keep communication simple – avoid using too many big words or complicated sentences.

The Elderly are Easily Overwhelmed

Another reason why patience is vital when working with seniors is because they can easily become overwhelmed. A lot is going on in their lives, from dealing with health issues to managing their finances and home repairs. It can be too much for them to handle when you add new things into the mix – like a visit from family or a change in routine.

It’s important to be understanding of this and to give them plenty of time to adjust. Don’t try to overload them with too many activities or tasks, and be sure to take the time to listen to what they have to say.

If they need some space, respect that – it doesn’t mean they don’t love you or appreciate your visit.

The Elderly are Experiencing a New Stage of Life

Finally, remember that the elderly are going through a new stage of life, and they may not be as comfortable with it as you are. This can be frustrating for both of you, but it’s important to try to understand where they’re coming from.

They may feel like they’re no longer in control of their life, and they may be struggling to come to terms with their new identity. Be patient as they work through these feelings, and offer your support whenever you can.

How To Improve Your Patience Level When Working With The Elderly

Here are some tips on instilling patience when taking care of the elderly:

Take Things Slow

When you’re in a hurry, it can be easy to get frustrated with the elderly when they can’t keep up. When living with a senior, allowing them to take their time and do things at their own pace will help to ease any frustration or tension.

Listen to Them

They may talk slower or may beat around the bush at times, but remember that they have a lot of life experience and wisdom to share. Listening to them attentively will show that you respect them, and they’ll feel more comfortable opening up to you.

Let Them Do Things at Their Own Pace

When it comes to tasks such as bathing, grooming, and dressing, let the elderly do them at their own pace. They may take a little longer than you’re used to, but it’s important that they feel in control of their own lives. When they have a sense of independence, it will help to ease their anxiety and frustration.

Don’t be Dismissive of Their Feelings

No matter how frustrating the elderly may be at times, it’s important never to dismiss their feelings. If they’re angry, sad, or frustrated, take the time to listen and try to understand what they’re going through.

Their feelings are valid just as your feelings are, and it’s important to respect that.

Be Aware of Your Tone and Body Language

As with any communication, it’s important to be aware of your tone and body language. When you’re interacting with the elderly, make sure that you’re speaking in a calm and understanding voice, and avoid crossing your arms or rolling your eyes.

They’ve grown in a different generation, and they may interpret things differently than you do.

Wrapping Up

Working with the elderly can be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding. When you take the time to understand their needs and quirks, and when you instill patience in yourself, it will make your job a lot easier.

Remember to slow down, listen attentively, and respect their feelings – this is the best way to create a positive relationship with the elderly.

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Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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