Working in the home care profession enables you to see certain elements of an elder's life that may fly under the radars of their doctor, their friends and even their closest family members.

The people caring for your loved one, home health aides, registered nurses, social workers, etc., witness some of the individual's most vulnerable moments as they handle real-time critical issues related to a senior's health and well-being. Here are some important lessons from home care nurses that can help you in care giving and beyond.

Routines matter

A daily routine will put your loved one in a better mood and keep their spirits high. For folks combating multiple chronic diseases—such as hypertension, Parkinson's disease or dementia—a morning ritual can help kick-start their motor skills, triggering their mind that it's a new day and it's time to get going. If you are having trouble getting into the groove of a routine, start with small steps. One home health aide started getting her patient up just ten minutes earlier each day to provide more time at breakfast. This type of thoughtful caregiving enabled the elder to avoid rushing through the meal, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. Learn more about the benefits of setting and sticking to a daily routine for dementia patients.


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Subtle clues can be a lifesaver

When your loved one asks for a foot rub again and again, don't assume he or she just wants pleasure. There might be an underlying medical issue that is causing significant discomfort in their feet. Sometimes when patients ask to be massaged or rubbed, it is because they are experiencing pain, but do not want to feel as if they are complaining or being an inconvenience to their family members. Additionally, some people may not be cognitively equipped to express what they are truly feeling. So, be on the lookout for subtle messages!

Listen and take action

Home Health Aide Bonita Scott is no stranger to moderating family situations. She routinely sees family members not clearly communicating over difficult subjects, such as changes in their loved one's health condition or care. She shares an experience about a patient whose children would insist that their mother participate in their routine family nights that were held in the basement. The mother had difficulty making it up and down the stairs, and the children just thought she didn't want to participate. After witnessing the miscommunication and stress it was causing, Scott intervened and encouraged the family to put in a chair lift to make it easier for their mother to join them in their festivities. Discover how caregivers can listen with intention.

Stay connected, virtually or in person

Aging at home can be one of the best options in terms of comfort, convenience and privacy. It can also be lonely for those who live alone or do not have loved ones who visit frequently. All too often, nurses see lonesome older adults who wish they had more people around. Part of care giving is showing people how to stay connected, or get connected, via social channels, like Facebook, Twitter and online games. Additionally, caregivers help people find social groups in their community, whether it is a weekly bingo night, book club or game at a local senior center. Discover how online interactions can be a simple way to prevent senior depression.