Working with older adults may be a good career option for those seeking to assist others and feel fulfilled by their work. Several career paths include working with older adults, including nursing, social work, and physical therapy. When someone expresses a desire to work with older adults, they want to work with senior people, typically in a healthcare setting. Several vocations include working with older adults, ranging from patient advocacy to audiology (Edman and Wårdh, 2022). Working with the elderly may seem fairly fulfilling to many people. By assisting older adults in becoming more physically and mentally healthy, caregivers may help them improve their quality of life. Addressing the unmet care and support needs of an aging population and offering services and solutions centered on the needs and desires of older adults has become a critical public health concern. To successfully satisfy these criteria, it is vital to identify and understand older people’s care and support needs and the broader environment in which they live and interact.
There are various services that social care practitioners can offer to older adults while working with them. Although most health care practitioners are familiar with nutritional, cleaning, and transportation services, many other services are available, including counselling, case management for clients and respite for caregivers. Another service is elderly errands services. Routine errands, such as going to the post office, grocery store, or pharmacy, may be challenging for older people with long-term health problems. Elderly adults who cannot do these types of tasks struggle to preserve their independence. Elderly errand services make it possible for older adults to do their errands without leaving their homes. Various age-related concerns make chores difficult for older individuals, making it much easier for them to age in place (Ekdawi and Hansen, 2018). Services such as meal delivery, transportation, and errands for the elderly may help them maintain their independence.
Various legislations have been put in place in favor of the older adults. The older adults should have sufficient food, water, shelter, clothing, health care via income, family and community aid, and self-help. Individuals above the age of 65 ought to have the ability to work or have other sources of income (Ekdawi and Hansen, 2018). Individuals over the age of 60 must be given the chance to decide the date and place of their retirement. Elderly education and training programs should be offered. A safe and adaptable environment should be provided for the elderly to fit their changing requirements. The legislation grants the older adults permission to age in their homes for as long as practicable.
Interpersonal Elements of Working with Older Adults
A range of interpersonal factors inform relationship-led practice with the older adults. The primary goal of advocacy is to change people’s thoughts, policies, and habits. Numerous government and non-government groups have placed a low priority on the issues of the elderly when older people are increasingly marginalized from their families, communities, and involvement in development for a variety of reasons. To be successful, advocacy and awareness-raising efforts with older adults must reach a broad variety of audiences, such as service providers, the general public, non-profit organizations, the government, and even older adults (Thuesen et al., 2021). Age-related experiences and strong aged-care models provide the groundwork for raising awareness of the issues of older adults. Policy reforms will increase older adults’ funding and engagement in current services and activities (Thuesen et al., 2021). This is rarely evidenced, especially in countries with limited access to material and financial resources.
A more plausible reason is that legislators and other decision-makers are attempting to better serve the needs of older adults, either by increasing the variety of current services or by developing new ones expressly for them. Along with soliciting foreign investment, certain governments and non-governmental organizations may use these strategies to make existing resources available to the elderly.
Another element that informs the relationship with older adults is professional boundaries. Professional boundaries separate a worker’s authority from their customers’ vulnerability. Professional boundaries are a complex subject because they are inextricably related to peoples’ personal views. Through time, they are molded and evolved by their experiences, cultures, and histories. Social inclusion informs the relationship while working with older adults (Thuesen et al., 2021). When a person is included, they have the opportunity to be active and overcome barriers encountered in everyday life. Increased social involvement results in a robust network of family, friends, and careers. There are numerous strategies for overcoming feelings of isolation and despair and improving overall health. When one feels a sense of belonging to a group of people or a neighborhood, well-being, and self-reliance are strengthened.
In the workplace, interpersonal skills include collaborating and working well with others is important to work efficiently with older adults. Each team member or staff member is responsible for their own set of tasks and goals, yet they all work toward the same purpose (Tiilikainen et al., 2019). The ultimate goal here is to contribute to the company’s success. Without collaboration, the workplace may become an unpleasant place to be, and the firm may collapse. Possessing an attitude of positivity is another example of interpersonal element that can be applied while working with the older adults effectively. Positivity in life benefits peoples’ careers. An optimistic mindset facilitates both stress management and job flexibility. People will grow more swiftly in their work and profession if they have a favorable perspective.
Theory Understandings Concerning Working with Older Adults: Person-in-Environment Theory and Resilience: A Good Partnership
The person-in-environment theory and resilience stated that older adults’ biggest weakness might be their inability to resist environmental pressures. This is referred to as passive accommodation, and it relates to the social worker’s perception of an aged person as a passive victim of their environment (Thornton, 2021). A gerontological social worker refers to an older adult actively participating in problem-solving as a differentiated and integrated person in their environment (Tiilikainen et al., 2019). A gerontological social care practitioner leads a multidisciplinary team of service providers, including family members, friends, and caretakers, to help the aged resolve their issues. Forgetting the older adult’s disengaged state, the gerontological social worker assists the older adult in using their talents to begin issue resolution. Resilience is the capacity to return to a normal state after a setback. The resilience of older adults dictates whether they respond positively and adaptively to psychological, social, biological, or economic stimuli or negatively and maladaptive. When an older person’s ability to rebound from hardship is great (like a ball does), this indicates resilience.
Theory of Planned Behavior Framework
According to the theory of planned behavior, subjective norm, attitude and sense of behavioral control may all be used to predict whether or not a person intends to cooperate with older adults. As the gap between demand for services and available health care providers’ increases, it is becoming more critical to identify and address the reasons contributing to this disparity (Tiilikainen et al., 2019). An individual’s subjective norm, attitude and perceived behavioral control may all be used to predict their intention to work with older adults. The most important predictor of a person’s willingness to work with older folks is their view of the social norms associated with the assigned task. This finding is consistent with previous research that has examined the effect of social variables.
Social care practitioners must pay close attention to the message and culture of the training programs they attend. Previous research shows that older individuals have a more positive attitude about working with senior citizens than younger participants (Ekdawi and Hansen, 2018). Additionally, a link between perceived behavioral control and experience items indicates that training and education have a large impact on competence. Working with older adults has been associated with more positive attitudes, confirming the hypothesis that prior experiences form attitudes (Thornton, 2021). Opportunities to interact with older individuals are most strongly associated with subjective norms, which are likely because opportunities to work with older adults are available in a particular environment; that setting values typically this kind of employment.
Conferring to the activity theory, healthy aging occurs when individuals maintain physical activity and social interactions. This theory posits that physical exercise and social interaction promote age-related satisfaction. While retirement may be challenging for the elderly due to cultural pressures to conform, participating in meaningful activities may help them overcome this. The model as well denotes that there is a link between an individual’s degree of activity and happiness (Ekdawi and Hansen, 2018). Activity theory reflects the functionalist concept that an individual’s equilibrium should be maintained later. Seniors who lose their jobs are likely to seek new ones to fill the hole. The idea was initially propagated by a gerontologist and aging specialist in 1961 in response to the newly released disengagement theory of aging.
According to the disengagement paradigm, when individuals age and accept that they will die sooner rather than later, they naturally withdraw from society. Individuals experience a significant drop in their social networks due to moving away from their typical societal obligations — such as working or having a family. On the other hand, the disengagement theory’s pessimism contradicts Havighurst’s activity theory. By contrast, opponents of the activity hypothesis say that it ignores the health and economic inequities that hinder older adults from engaging in these activities. On the other hand, some older people are averse to taking on more obligations.
Reflection: The Importance of Self-Awareness and Self-Care Responses
There are several challenges that older individuals may encounter or are already dealing with, all of which may affect the kind of care they accept or get. Additionally, because people in this age range have more life experiences, they may perceive their treatment as inappropriate or uncomfortable. They may know someone who has been through a similar situation and whose treatment did not work or took an extended period to heal (Ekdawi and Hansen, 2018). These life experiences may have given them the impression that they have a better knowledge concerning recovery and dealing with them.
Understanding how older adults think, behave, and interact with others would enable me to strengthen my relationship with them. When I work with older adults, I will be able to use what I have learned here to establish an excellent therapeutic partnership. Practice circumstances that will assist me in gaining a better understanding of the aging process and adapting my conduct toward older adults. I may improve my behavior by developing relationships with older adults and learning how to work with them via conversation and observation of their activities. To accomplish that goal, I believe that working with the elderly more often will obtain experience and information that I can use for the older adults with whom I will work in the future. Self-awareness is a critical component of emotional intelligence.
The practice is all about developing an awareness of one’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses. There are several advantages to self-awareness, but it is particularly critical in the workplace. People should be able to identify their most productive times and locations (Edman and Wårdh, 2022). If they have a lot of energy in the morning but run out in the afternoon, they should prepare to accomplish their most physically demanding chores when they get home. Self-awareness helps individuals to become aware of their emotions’ impact on others around them.
Apart from benefitting oneself, self-awareness has a beneficial effect on others. If a parson is conscious of their moods and feelings, they should be able to recognize how they affect others. It is essential to be aware of how stress manifests physically and to make efforts to alleviate it (Edman and Wårdh, 2022). As much as people wish to compartmentalize their personal and professional lives, they are just human.
Self-care enables people to make choices of various sizes throughout their day to attain the degree of well-being they want. To deal with life’s problems and the responses to them successfully, people must look after their emotional and spiritual well-being (Edman and Wårdh, 2022). Self-care urges people to have a positive connection with them to pass on positive emotions to others. Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not self-indulgent. To adequately care for one, you must consider the larger picture.
Edman, K. and Wårdh, I., (2022). Oral health care beliefs among care personnel working with older people follow-up of oral care education provided by dental hygienists. International Journal of Dental Hygiene.
Ekdawi, I. and Hansen, E., (2018). We are working with older people in contexts of difference and discrimination. In Being with Older People (pp. 139-159). Routledge.
Thornton, S., (2021). Life History of Older People: Social Theories and the Sociology of Ageing. In Understanding Ageing for Nurses and Therapists (pp. 25-37). Springer, Cham.
Thuesen, J., Feiring, M., Doh, D. and Westendorp, R.G., (2021). Reablement in need of theories of aging: would theories of successful aging do?. Ageing & Society, pp.1-13.
Tiilikainen, E., Hujala, A., Kannasoja, S., Rissanen, S. and Närhi, K., (2019). “They’re always in a hurry”–Older people’s perceptions of access and recognition in health and social care services. Health & Social Care in the Community, 27(4), pp.1011-1018.