My Grumpy Old Patient
If you work with patients that are in the geriatric range you know that some can be quite grouchy, mostly the result of them being unhappy due to the aging process. This is something that I always had to keep in mind as I worked with people, especially when I was younger and had an abundance of energy. As I aged it was a bit easier to remember. Now that I've reached the senior age I can attest to why some patients can be grumpy.
The first thing to remember is that old bodies move slower. Arthritis, prior injuries and balance deficits can make a person anxious about trying to keep up with a young therapist. Add the fact that about 70% of seniors do not exercise on a regular basis which impacts their energy level. I've seen some seniors that can pedal a bike for thirty minutes, but most are lucky to last ten to fifteen minutes. If you, as their therapist, ask for more than they can handle expect some resistance.
Of course their current medical diagnosis will be a factor here too. If the person has had a major illness or has been bed-ridden for an extended period their energy levels will be decreased. Yes the object of therapy is to build that energy level back up, but you also need to remember that due to their advanced age it takes more time to recover.
You also need to consider the remaining bodily functions that slow down with age. Every birthday tends to see a decrease in sight, hearing, digestion and more. One patient, a male in his 80's, once told me the worst thing he lost was his ability to make love to his wife. "And that's why I stay so grumpy!" he would joke. It's not a joking matter, but again just one more thing that leads to having a grumpy patient.
My thought here is to keep their pace in mind when working with geriatric patients. You'll sometimes find an exceptional senior who has lots of energy and it will be easy to forget their age, but for the most part this age bracket will need lots of TLC when working with them.
Until next time, hope all your "Thoughts" are Good-