As a health care aide, many of the clients you work with will be seniors who are adjusting to changes in their physical abilities, mental capacities, and overall lifestyles. These changes may affect their ability to stay independent; however, maintaining independence will likely be very important to them. In fact, one study by the EAR Foundation asserts that loss of independence is one of the biggest fears among seniors.
Although you cannot change your clients’ conditions, there are nonetheless many ways that you will be able to help them maintain a level of independence as you begin your health care aide career. Keep reading to learn more about some of these strategies, and how they can help your clients thrive throughout the aging process.
Understand the Benefits of ‘Aging in Place’ as You Begin Your Health Care Aide Career
One central theme in many discussions about independence for seniors is the concept of aging in place. Aging in place is essentially the ability of seniors to live comfortably and safely in their own homes and communities, despite their age and ability levels. This is important to many older clients—according to AARP, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 would like to age in their current residence.
Health care aides, especially those who work in-home care, can play an integral part in helping a clientage in place. Health care aides can help clients manage the challenges of everyday living, providing support with everything from cooking light meals to assisting clients with personal grooming.
Physical Activity Improves the Lives of Senior Clients
Encouraging senior clients to engage in physical activity is an excellent way to promote client independence during your health care aide career. Physical activity has been shown to help ease the symptoms of illnesses, increase strength and balance, reduce the risk of falling, and improve heart health. However, it’s important to note that any changes to physical activity should be a part of a client’s physician-approved care plan to avoid unnecessary risk.
As a health care aide, you can take steps to help your clients participate in physical activities. For example, you might accompany them on a walk around the block, or help them complete exercises inside during the colder months.
Emergency Preparation Can Help Independent Seniors Stay Safe and Secure
Even with accommodations and appropriate cautions, accidents and emergencies may still occur. An important part of a senior’s ability to maintain their independence is to have an actionable plan to follow in these cases. Devices like LifeAlert can be helpful in ensuring that your client has communication access to emergency services and support—if your client uses such a device, make sure both you and your client know how it works.
You can also support your client’s emergency preparedness by communicating carefully with your supervisor. If you notice changes in your client’s behavior or needs, discussing these with your supervisor can help ensure that your client’s care plan is adequately accounting for risks.
Promote Social Engagement for Clients Throughout Your Health Care Aide Career
Finally, after you earn your health care aide certificate, you can help your clients maintain independence by helping them achieve higher levels of social interaction and engagement. Social engagement is important for a variety of reasons, including emotional health and mental stimulation. In fact, community engagement is one of the most important determinants of successful aging.
As a health care aide, you can provide your clients with social interaction yourself by being engaged and friendly each time you interact with them. Additionally, you can encourage them to pursue social activities in or outside the home, such as joining a club or meeting with friends and family. By being attuned to the needs of your clients, you can promote independence and wellbeing throughout your health care aide career.
Do you want to know more about how you can improve the lives of seniors in your community?