The elderly are part of a group with specific needs that society must meet efficiently since life expectancy is becoming longer and longer. Therefore, the aging population has led to increased demand for professions related to the elderly. Usually, we associate the elderly with healthcare professions: nursing, medicine, physiotherapy, personal assistance, etc. Although most of the offers are indeed concentrated in the field of health, other profiles also perform necessary tasks.
Because with the development of medicine and improvements in the quality of life, life expectancy has increased significantly. The percentage of the population within the old age category (over 65 years) is increasingly higher. There has also been an increase in the number of people who fall into the highest risk geriatric groups, such as those over 75 and 90 years of age. In addition, changes in family types have made the role of the elderly less important, condemning them in many cases to isolation and loneliness. On the other hand, the loss of income at the end of their working life may have affected their medical care and social life, making external assistance more necessary.
Senior caregivers need specific skills to work with these people. The last stage of life brings about significant changes in our health and social environment. Therefore, you need to accompany each person without becoming resigned or discouraged.
Working with the elderly is not always easy. Although the elderly often need help, we must abandon compassionate and paternalistic attitudes. The fact that they have health problems or do not have a stable family structure should not make us forget the value of each person in his or her own right. Thus, we must work with a vocation of respect, integration, and coexistence. These are some of the essential characteristics for working with an older adult:
- Interest in the health of other people.
- Empathy and ability to cooperate.
- Ability to detect and analyze aging processes.
- Emotional stability and cheerful personality.
- Honesty and patience.
- Care for one’s health.
Senior caregivers can have very diverse professional profiles and training, but among the most common in this field, you will find the following:
Gerontology. Gerontology is the science dedicated to the study of old age and aging processes. Nowadays, there are training cycles, degrees, and master’s degrees in this field.
Neurology. Neurology is the specialty of medicine that deals with disorders of the nervous system. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or senile dementia require the care of a neurologist.
Nursing. If you are a nurse or nursing assistant, you are likely in contact with the elderly. This is a group that needs specific attention and care.
Physical therapy. The treatment and maintenance of physical health are essential as we grow older. For example, regular physiotherapy improves muscle elasticity and the functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Care and assistance to the adult. The figure of the assistant is essential not only in nursing homes but also in private homes. He/she must be a professional with the corresponding training.
Social education. Social educators also contribute to improving the social integration of the elderly, for example, in nursing homes.
Social work. Another essential discipline for grandparents to enjoy the necessary resources and feel socially integrated.
Psychology. The last years of life often generate doubts and some fears. Psychological care helps to manage them with more serenity.
Nutrition and dietetics. The older you get, the more likely you are to have health problems. So in this sense, a good diet can improve the quality of life.