What preventive measures can nurses use to minimize the impact of altered self-concept in patients

What preventive measures can nurses use to minimize the impact of altered self-concept in patients

Many seniors lose their self-esteem as they get older. Significant life changes can rock their feelings of control and confidence. Boosting your elderly loved one’s self-esteem can help them live longer safely on their own and contribute to an overall greater feeling of happiness and well-being.

Studies have found that there is a connection between one’s self-esteem and overall health at any age. But seniors after the age of 65 often take a hit to their self-esteem. Some research points to the series of losses (or perceived losses) that can happen in their golden years—like the death of a spouse or friends, retirement from meaningful work, living on a fixed income, or illness or frailty that challenges one’s independence or mobility. These milestones can shake the foundation of one’s self-confidence. But some psychologists argue that seniors who reject the stereotypes of old age fare better when they continue to view themselves as active and their lives as meaningful, despite their advancing years. Bolstering your loved one’s state of mind and giving them a sense of purpose can improve their overall mental health and positive self-image.

Many seniors also experience ramifications to their physical health. Lower self-esteem has been shown to take a toll on one’s body by increasing stress levels. Chronic stress can be particularly hazardous for seniors. They may have difficulty sleeping, increased fatigue, memory issues, raised blood pressure, depression, inflammation, and a lowered immune system. Older adults are already susceptible to illness due to their age. When combining age-related suppression along with low self-esteem issues, seniors can have difficulty fighting off disease and take longer to recover.

Here are 7 ways to boost the self-esteem of an older parent:

  1. Social Connections. No matter your age, we all want to have strong friendships and close family. Studies show that seniors who are surrounded by supportive family and friends have higher self-esteem. Keeping these social connections strong is vital to their happiness.
  2. Squashing Negative Stereotypes.  Society inundates us with negative messages and images about the aging process. Stay positive when you are around your loved one. Let them know you value their contributions and that you respect them. If they are self-conscious of their limitations, reassure them that their hearing loss or lack of stamina is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have our own limitations in life.
  3. Strength and Balance. If your loved one is steady on their feet and less likely to fall, they will be more confident caring for themselves and getting around. Encourage your loved one to take a balance class or chair tai chi at a local senior center or offer to walk regularly with them to keep up their strength. A decline in health and strength can easily lead to lower self-esteem and a loss of confidence.
  4. Ask for Their Advice. Your older loved one is a fountain of wisdom, experience, and advice. Ask them for their input or to help you work through a problem. They may have some good insight on everything from serious questions about relationships to more lighthearted issues like cooking, cleaning, or gardening tips. Being helpful and having a sense of purpose can really be a boost to their confidence.
  5. Make Their Home Accessible. Many times, a dip in self-esteem is the direct result of the loss of independence. Be proactive by installing handrails in the tub, checking that rugs don’t slip, keep frequently used items within easy reach, and make sure pathways in the house are clear for easy walking. Give them the tools they need to live safely in their home.
  6. Talk About Current Events. Get your loved one’s viewpoint on the world today based on their personal experience. Showing value for their ideas and input can be a real boost to their confidence. You might not always agree, but you can have respectful discussions.
  7. Be Compassionate. Try to be patient and understanding when interacting with a senior loved one. Hearing issues can be misinterpreted as a lack of understanding, or less stamina could be misconstrued as stubbornness. They may have some limitations but always treat them with dignity and compassion.

Visit a local Aegis Living community to speak with one of our trained staff who can provide helpful insight into what to expect as your parent or loved one ages. We are happy to show you how we assist our residents with programs and activities that boost their self-esteem and provide a sense of purpose in their daily lives.

What preventive measures can nurses use to minimize the impact of altered self-concept in patients

Jennifer Alexy

Former Senior Vice President of Sales

Jennifer came to Áegis from Auberge Resorts Collection as their Senior VP of Sales and Marketing where she expanded the global sales organization and significantly improved revenue over prior years. Prior to that, she was a Sales Leader at Marriott and at Ritz Carlton where she spent 16 years delivering strong revenue performance.

Preventing re-hospitalization is a huge responsibility, especially in consideration of costly penalties that are levied for early readmissions. To accomplish this, nurses need to constantly improve patient teaching and education prior to discharge. Some of the things nurses can do to advance patient education include:

  • Delegate more responsibilities to support staff and be more focused on patient education.
  • Begin educating patients with every encounter from admission.
  • Find out what the patient already knows. Correct any misinformation.
  • Feed patients information in layman’s terms. Utilize visual aids as often as possible.
  • Question their understanding of the care, and plan for the next lesson.
  • Use return demonstration when administering care. Involve the patient from the very first treatment.
  • Ask the patient to tell you how they would explain (step-by-step) their disease or treatment to their loved one.
  • Make sure the patient understands the medications as you administer them. Make sure they understand how and when to refill medications.
  • Provide patients with information about signs and symptoms of their condition that will require immediate attention.

Five strategies for patient education success

Teaching patients is an important aspect of nursing care. Whether teaching a new mom how to bathe a newborn baby or instructing an adult who is living with a chronic heart disease, a successful outcome depends on the quality of the nurse’s instruction and support. Consider these five strategies.

1. Take advantage of educational technology

Technology has made patient education materials more accessible. Educational resources can be customized and printed out for patients with the touch of a button. Make sure the patient’s individualized needs are addressed. Don't simply hand the patient a stack of papers to read, review them with patients to ensure they understand the instructions and answer questions that arise. Some resources are available in several languages.

2. Determine the patient’s learning style

Similar information may be provided by a range of techniques. In fact, providing education using different modalities reinforces teaching. Patients have different learning styles so ask if your patient learns best by watching a DVD or by reading. A hands on approach where the patient gets to perform a procedure with your guidance is often the best method.

3. Stimulate the patient’s interest

It's essential that patients understand why this is important. Establish rapport, ask and answer questions, and consider specific patient concerns. Some patients may want detailed information about every aspect of their health condition while others may want just the facts, and do better with a simple checklist.

4. Consider the patient’s limitations and strengths

Does the patient have physical, mental, or emotional impairments that impact the ability to learn? Some patients may need large print materials and if the patient is hearing impaired, use visual materials and hands on methods instead of simply providing verbal instruction. Always have patients explain what you taught them. Often people will nod “yes” or say that they comprehend what is taught even if they have not really heard or understood. Consider factors such as fatigue and the shock of learning a critical diagnosis when educating patients.

5. Include family members in health care management

Involving family members in patient teaching improves the chances that your instructions will be followed. In many cases, you will be providing most of the instruction to family members. Families play a critical role in health care management.

Teaching patients and their families can be one of the most challenging, yet also rewarding elements of providing nursing care. First-rate instruction improves patient outcomes dramatically.

The value of patient education resources

For further resources that will strength your organization’s patient-teaching, let Lippincott Advisor help. Our best-in-class, evidence-based decision support software for institutions includes over 16,000 customizable patient teaching handouts and content entries.