by Barry Lycka
Geriatric care or the care for the elderly and infirm in hospitals and other health care facilities has certainly gone a long way. Equipped with the latest machineries that money could buy, these establishments are sometimes housing more then 20 elderly patients at any given time. With the projection that the elderly population is growing by about 1% per year, more and more hospitals are creating room just to accommodate potential clients. However, for a good number of years, there have been reports of elderly abuse and mistreatment in many health care facilities. Most of these lean towards indifference to the plight of the elderly patient to downright abandonment, which may include: not being given adequate food, water, hygienic care, medications and procedures as needed or asked for by the patient.
Although there is a lot to be said to lobbying for the rights of the elderly who are in the care of health care facilities, there are other ways and means that you can do when it comes to helping elderly people maintain their dignity in hospitals. And some of these measures can even have immediate positive results to the people involved.
1. If you know any elderly person that is currently confined or staying at a hospital, you might want to visit him or her as often as possible. You could be their voice when it comes to asking for specific requests from the patients. There will be times when a request, say something as simple as asking for a cup of water, may take a long while to get delivered. The hospital aides or the nurses may be extremely busy at the moment. You can continue reminding the hospital staff about the patient's request or you can provide for the request (if you can) yourself.
2. An emergency trip to the hospital can be frightening enough for just about anyone. And with the case of elderly people who may have been alone too long, or may not exactly be in the right mental state, this can be terrifying ride. By simply being there and making sure that the patient is not left waiting out in the cold while being processed will bring inexplicable comfort to the person.
3. Ask the elderly patient what he or she wants. This is something that many people overlook. Incredibly, elderly patients ask for the simplest of things: things that anyone would take for granted, but may mean a lot to the person. A few very good examples f which would be: a request to go to the bathroom, some help turning over on one side of the bed, or even switching off the lights so they can sleep.
4. Volunteer your services. If you have some spare time on your hands, you might want to ask the nearest hospital or health care facility about volunteering your services to their geriatric wards. Depending upon the establishment's existing policies, you might be assigned to a few simple tasks like taking food to the patients, or changing the sheets. However, every little help can ease the burden of the overworked staff. And that can increase their efficiency, which in turn is beneficial to their elderly wards.
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