Person centered care means not only knowing an elderly person you are taking care of but knowing them so well that you have a relationship. When two people are in a relationship they know so many small things about the other. What are the elder’s favorite foods, drinks, as well as what does she really dislike. What are her favorite activities and what activities can she live without. Who are her favorite people and having easy access to these people so that you can always reach them for her.
Person centered care-giving means the control, is always with the elder. Having control, means giving the elder choices all day long. At every interaction, whether choosing what to wear in the morning, what to have for breakfast or where to go for a walk. Letting the elder know that you take their concerns first over any chore or task you need to do.
Knowing the elder’s usual routine, is she an early riser or likes to sleep in, makes all the difference. I took care of Carl who was difficult to say the least. He seemed to wake up grumpy and stayed that way all day. I was just about ready to give up, when his daughter shared that her mother had brought Carl a cup of coffee in bed every morning all their married life. Knowing this was the definition of, person centered care for Carl.
Bringing Carl his cup of coffee in bed made all the difference to him. This now was his routine, and he started the day happy, gone was grumpy Carl. The family is always the bridge between the elder and the caregiver. The family knows those seemingly small things that make up person centered care, that don’t turn out to be small at all.
Letting someone know that they are more important, and spending time with them is more important than any chore, is empowering to the elder. It puts me in mind of a poem found on stitched samplers and framed in babe’s rooms. It starts out “cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow – quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep”, (my tweak) Grandma needs me now and Grandma won’t keep.
Virginia Garberding RN
Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing