Nursing assistance in the activities of daily living

Old woman on wheelchair and her nursing assistance

Age not only depletes the vitality of individuals but also diminishes their ability to perform even simple day-to-day activities. These routine activities that can be performed daily by any individual without any assistance are called “activities of daily living” or ADLs.

Physicians use the activities of daily living as indicators to gauge whether the senior is capable of living alone or needs extra assistance. This assistance may be provided by competent nursing assistants engaged by home healthcare providers to support the elderly.

What are the activities of daily living?

Activities of daily living are those activities that can be done by seniors on their own without the need for any external help. They include activities of personal hygiene like eating, bathing, dressing up, toileting, transferring and continence.

Elders above 60 may sometimes be unable to even perform these activities of daily living. Similarly, elders with mental ailments like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty in even bathing and dressing. For such elderly patients, it is best to engage nursing assistance through reliable home healthcare providers to help them with their activities of daily living.

How can nursing assistance help in the activities of daily living?

Initially, family members may feel that they can support the elders in the activities of daily living. But this requires 24×7 presence along with undivided attention which may not be practically possible.

A trained nursing assistant can be of invaluable support to the senior and help him/her in performing their activities of daily living. Since the nursing assistant has received the relevant training, they know the right way to handle the ailing senior easily. Being trained to handle clinical emergencies, nursing assistants are better equipped to handle any unexpected health issue encountered by the elder and can cope with it suitably before calling for expert help. Nurses are used to caring for patients 24×7 and will hence be able to attend to the elder at any time of the day or night.

Every nursing assistant is trained to help the senior in all their activities of daily living in a kind and courteous manner. For instance, they should help the senior in their daily hygiene like brushing their teeth, toileting, bathing, combing, grooming, dressing, etc. Nursing assistants must help the elder by handing them the brush with toothpaste and help them rinse the mouth before and after brushing. Holding the brush while brushing too might be required if the patient is chronically ill. The nurse must do every task with patience and perfection to make the elder feel totally comfortable.

Helping elders with toileting might seem to be a delicate task but nurses do this with consideration. For immobile patients, they use a bedpan and for elders who can move about, they lead them to the bathroom by hand. Bathing senior patients also require extreme care. The nurse should take care to see that the water is neither too hot or cold for the elder to bathe. While lathering the patient, they should take care to see that the soap does not get into their eyes. While towelling, they should use a soft cloth and not rub vigorously. While dressing the elderly patient, it is best if the nursing assistant pays heed to the personal likes and dislikes of the senior. Allow them to select the dress of their choice and ask them how they want their hair to be combed.

Feeding the elder should be done like feeding a baby. The nursing assistant should check the food to see if it is right for the patient. always mash the food and feed the elder with a clean spoon. Tie a bib or napkin around the elder’s neck to ensure that their dress does not get dirty while feeding. Feeding should be done slowly mouth-by-mouth with fluids being given after every 2-3 bites. Never force the patient to eat if they are full.

What are the 3 factors that nursing assistants should keep in mind while performing the activities of daily living?

Nursing assistants should keep in mind these 3 factors while performing the activities of daily living- comfort, safety and dignity.

Nurses should always keep the comfort of the elderly patient foremost in their mind. This begins with checking the temperature of the bathwater, ensuring that the plate is clean and that the razor is too sharp, etc.

Dignity lies in not allowing the patient to be embarrassed by their helplessness. To achieve this, strike a good rapport with the elder and make them feel at ease. Allow them to do small tasks by themselves. allow privacy during bathing and toileting.

Nursing assistance is invaluable during the activities of daily living for most elders above 60. Engage kind, caring and competent nursing assistants for your elder by contacting the right home healthcare provider with reliable and reputed service.

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