Working With Geriatric Sleep Patients
As the field changes we are seeing that more of the in-lab patients are geriatric patients. The issues is they tend to be very different than middle age patients. They have more health issues, psychiatric issues, and social issues. As many sleep technicians are younger, the biggest issue sometimes can be a generation gap that needs to be bridged.
The first thing that the younger generation may not be aware of is that over 70 percent of seniors have access and spend a good amount of time online doing research on what is going on in their life. This includes sleep disorders, their treatments and a whole lot of opinions, both right and wrong, about sleep testing. Because they share their experiences, many come in expecting the worst. They need to be educated or reeducated correctly about the test and the therapy.
They do tend to like formality. Holding doors, call them by their title and last name until invited to use their first name and introducing yourself and shaking their hand will bring your professionalism up a great deal in their eyes. You want to gain their respect.
Many seniors do not have anyone at home and you may be the only one they have talked to in days or weeks. Indulge those who are chatty. Ask about pets, what they used to do, and their family. It could go a long way to making them happy and comfortable and you never know when it can actually lift their spirits.
They may or may not be well-informed about their health. There are two different groups and I believe it has mostly to do with what career they had and where they are raised. Those who have higher educations and grew up in suburban areas tend to be very well educated about their health and medications as well as their insurance benefits. Those who lived in rural areas and had blue collar jobs or mostly worked from home tend to believe that their doctor is in charge and they just follow instructions. For the latter you may find medication errors or confusion about health issues or treatments. They need a little more education.
Spending a little extra time care for your senior patients will pay off. If you keep in mind their social needs, educational needs, and health needs, you should have a very happy patient who will recommend your lab to their friends who need studies.