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The Importance of the Utmost Caring for the Older Person

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The main focus of this assignment is to provide the utmost care for the older person. We must also ensure that they have a healthy lifestyle and can participate actively in family and social life. Communication is a key factor in all types of caring. It is so important to listen to and encourage the older person to express any anxieties and worries they may have. The organisation I choose to write about is ‘Friends of the Elderly Ireland’. They raise awareness of the importance of physical health, social interaction and mental stimulation to having a good quality of life.

I found it very interesting whilst researching this assignment on how different countries and indeed different cultures perceive the elderly and how they care for them.

Health promotion is vitally important as it creates awareness on how older people can avoid illness and reduce the severity of conditions. I spoke about 2 therapies in my assignment – Aqua Aerobics and Music Therapy. Aqua Aerobics is great for reducing arthritis and other joint pain. Music Therapy can inspire the elderly who are non-verbal, to communicate by humming or singing. I was very moved by a documentary that we watched in class about an elderly man with Alzheimer’s. The healthcare assistant gave him headphones and as he listened to the music his face was glowing and he was singing along to the music.

Finally, I wrote how family members can be included as partners in care and how they can play a vital role in the day to day care of the elderly relative.

Promoting and living a healthy lifestyle across life means that the elderly population will continue to participate actively in family, social, economic, cultural and political life, in addition to being physically active and economically independent. Care and support in the older person’s lifetime will ensure that ageing remains a healthy and fruitful experience and a journey of self-transformation, education and contribution. This is why it is important to create age-friendly environments and policies to engage the elderly population and to utilize their potential when they are retired.

There are many organisations for older people in Ireland that offer a wide range of support and facilities, these empower older people and help them to believe that positive attitudes increase the quality of life, making them more resilient to illness and more focused on healthy lifestyle choices.

As of Wednesday, December 12th Ireland’s population is 4,822,393. Ireland’s population has been growing rapidly since the 1980’s. In a census done in 2016, the population in Ireland over the age of aged 65 was 637,567. The population over 80 was estimated as 308,000.While 456 people were over the age of 100. Life expectancy in Ireland is 81.5. In females it is 83.4, and in males 79.7. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ireland has a world ranking of 18 when it comes to life expectancy. The population growth in Ireland was 5 times the EU average in 2017. The Central Statistics Office (CSO), has projected that Ireland’s population will continue to grow until 2051 when it will reach almost 6.7million.

Healthy ageing means optimising opportunities for physical, social, and mental health to enable older people to take an active part in society without discrimination and to enjoy an independent and good quality of life.

The Role of the Healthcare Assistant in Caring for the Needs of the Older Person

I believe that healthcare assistants must at all times adhere to all the principles of care which are dignity, privacy, choice, health and safety, realising potential, equality and diversity. Healthcare assistants must maintain a person’s dignity by being respectful, call a person by their name, maintain confidentiality, respect their space and be honest with them. Protecting a patient’s privacy is important by obtaining consent before doing anything. Confidentiality is of utmost importance and it is a healthcare assistant’s responsibility to maintain it. It is important to respect the patient at all times. Healthcare assistants have to meet the needs of each individual client regardless of their cultures, age, race or gender.

Different people have varying needs and should be treated with dignity and respect at all times. It is important to ensure that the older person is happy and looked after in a way that gives them the best quality of life. The older person should be cared for as we would like to be cared for ourselves in our old age. Communication is very important. It is essential to listen and learn about the client, their concerns, fears, anxieties and hopes. They might not want to talk but being there for them means so much as they will not feel isolated and alone. It is imperative that we call the person by their name, always make eye contact, involve them in all tasks and provide choice’s, this will help to preserve their identity. A positive attitude can improve a person’s ability to cope. Their health can also improve by being less stressed.

Healthcare assistants must also help in keeping the client mobile, only if the client is able. If the client is immobile healthcare assistants should do daily exercises with them to ensure they get the blood circulating. Daily exercise can also strengthen muscles, increase energy levels and reduce depression and anxiety resulting in a healthy body and mind. Healthcare Assistants should be mindful to respect their client’s decisions. Sometimes they are the best person to make a decision regarding their beliefs and traditions.

Organisations play a huge part in promoting healthy ageing. They help create the environments and opportunities that help older people to accept the ageing process by changing perceptions of what growing old involves. In a poll taken in the past year, the majority of people over the age of 65 have never used the internet, this is why organisations play a vital part in our society. Many of them provide education and training in new technology, this helps them maintain their independence while also keeping them familiar with the advances in equipment and technology. Many organisations facilitate daily trips, for example, visiting a stately house and taking a walk around the gardens and finishing off with a light lunch or afternoon tea. Many organisations also provide transport for older people who are unable to drive and don’t have access to transport. They raise awareness of the importance of social connection, physical health and mental stimulation to having a good quality of life.

Friends of the Elderly, is an Irish volunteer based charity that was established in 1980. Their aim is to bring friendship and companionship to the elderly who are dealing with loneliness and social isolation. They encourage independence among older people. They also provide a warm and social atmosphere for the older generation in the community. They offer a wide range of social programmes for older people. One of the activities they participate in is singing and dancing. I think it is a great aerobic activity that improves circulation and reduces stress. When they leave they take many positive benefits including friendship, happiness and confidence. They also offer a befriending service where volunteers can visit older people in their homes for a chat and a cup of tea. There is also a telephone befriending service where a visit isn’t required, it all depends on what the older person wants and what their needs are.

Ethnic and Cultural Influences in the Older Person in Relation to Retirement

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, including knowledge, language, religion, music and art, cuisine and social habits. An Ethnic group is a category of people whose members identify with each other based on similarities, such as language, ancestry, history, society, religious practices and culture. The majority of the western culture would do whatever it takes to prevent ageing including wrinkle creams, supplements hair dyes and plastic surgery. However, ageing is a natural and inevitable process so it is extremely important to promote healthy ageing. The journey of old age is an adventure of continued learning, adjustments and most importantly, advising what is good and admirable. This journey begins in the mother’s womb. The nourishment and care that the mother and unborn baby receive will determine how the baby will progress in the world, encouraging a physical, social and mental environment that ensures the wellbeing of the baby to lead a healthy adolescence, adulthood and eventually old age.

China

The current population of China is 1,417,499,233 based on the latest United Nations estimates. China’s population is equivalent to 18.54% of the total world population. China is rapidly getting older, over 30 years ago only 5% of the population was over the age of 65, now over 9% of the population are over the age of 65. It is predicted that by 2025, 23% of China’s population will be over the age of 65. The life expectancy for China is 76 years, it is estimated that the life expectancy for men is 68 years and 73 years for woman. The population of elderly people in rural China is increasing dramatically due to the younger generation moving to urban areas for work, leaving their parents behind. China’s population growth has been a hot topic in the last few decades. The Chinese government sought to limit population growth by introducing the famous “one child policy”. Traditionally, male children had been preferred, especially in rural China, as sons inherit the family name and property and are also responsible for the care of their parents. When most families were restricted to one child, having a girl became highly undesirable, resulting in a rise in abortions. In late 2015 the Chinese government announced that the program was ending. Beginning in early 2016, all families would be allowed to have two children.

The average retirement age in China is 56. It varies from 50-55 for woman and 60 for males. However, now that people are living longer, many plan to work even in retirement due to financial need. People in China expect to spend more than 20-25 years in retirement. This is above the global average of 15-20 years.

China has a two-tier pension system consisting of a basic pension and a mandatory employee pension. It is possible to claim a pension benefit from the age of 55 years for men and 50 years for women if they worked in certain industries. It is possible for an individual to delay pension payments until after the average pension age, but the pension benefit is not valorised. Under the revised system, employers contributed a maximum of 20% of earnings to cover the basic pension. The second-tier pension is financed by an 8% contribution from employees.

These contributions are capped at three times the local average wage. The social security contributions to individual accounts are exempt from income taxes.

The traditional Chinese culture is governed by Filial Piety, these acts include obeying elder’s wishes, respect, support and most importantly caring for one’s parents and elderly family members. This is essential in Chinese society. Chinese seniors can sue their children over lack of emotional and financial support. Many companies are required to give employee’s time off to visit their elderly parents and family members. However this culture is slowly beginning to breakdown.

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Nursing homes in China are divided into 3 types, the first being private nursing homes. In 2017 it was estimated that there was 12,500 private nursing homes in China. However 2,122 private nursing homes have since closed as they did not meet the required standards. The 2nd and 3rd types are as follows, social welfare institutions and apartments for the elderly and lastly the collective run nursing homes, these are mainly in rural areas. They both accept the elderly who have no children and no other means of support.

Norway

The current population of Norway is 5,375,133 as of Sunday, December 16th 2018. Norway’s population is equivalent to 0.07% of the total world population. 27.8% of the population are over the age of 50/60 years and 4.2% are over the age of 80/100 years. The life expectancy in Norway is 82 years of age.

The government in Norway help promote healthy ageing, they have very positive attitudes to retirement and they support the elderly. The majority of older people participate in organisations and volunteering. The Norwegian government’s mission statement is “More years, more opportunities”. They value the elderly people and provide financial security in old age. Over 65s account for 16% of the population. Norway has one of the highest levels of working people who are over the age of 60 in Europe.

The average retirement age in Norway is 62. Discrimination based on a person’s age is forbidden in the work place. They have universal pension coverage and a very strong health care system. The pension is paid weather or not they are working, but they have to have lived in the country for 40 years or more to be entitled to the pension. The elderly/retired Emigrate to Spain, they take advantage of the difference between a Norwegian pension and a Spanish cost of living to live out an extremely comfortable retirement.

In Norway, 45% of care services are provided in nursing homes compared to 55% who receive in home care services. They do try to keep older people in their homes for as long as possible, through home improvements such as home healthcare assistants, hand rails, mobility systems and day care provision.

Canada

As of Saturday, December 15th 2018, Canada’s population was estimated at 37,103,309. This is equivalent to 0.48% of the total world population with a ranking of 38 in the list of countries by population. The average life expectancy in Canada is 80 years for men and 84 years for woman. According to statistics the population over the age of 65 has increased from 1.5 million to 2 million in the last 3 decades. The population over 80 went from 695,000 to 1.6 million since the 1980’s and the population over 100 has also increased dramatically from 196,000 to 492,000. The number of older people is expected to rise, it is estimated that by 2041, older people will comprise nearly a quarter of the Canadian population. Those aged 85 and over are expected to triple to almost 5.8% of the total population by 2041. The majority of older people in Canada live in urban areas while 23% reside in rural areas. Nova Scotia has the highest senior population at 16.6% while Alberta has the lowest at the 11.1%.

Most people over 65 reside at home, either with a spouse or alone. According to a study released by Health Canada, three quarters of the older population enjoyed housing considered to be affordable, adequately sized and in good condition. A small percentage of seniors live in nursing homes, though these rates rise sharply with age. In many cases, family and friends continue to provide care for older people.

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension provides a monthly benefit to eligible applicants. They can apply for and receive a full CPP retirement pension at age 65 or receive it as early as age 60 with a reduction, or as late as age 70 with an increase.

Health Promotion and Therapeutic Interventions as Ways to Improve Quality of Life for the Person after Retirement

Health Promotion

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. It moves beyond a focus on individual behaviour towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions. Health Promotion is a positive idea which aims to provide information to create awareness on how older people can avoid illness and reduce the impact and severity of conditions. Health promotion has an important role in ensuring positive healthy ageing. Health promotion is often defined as making healthy choices the easy choice. It can even help to ensure that older people with chronic conditions and disabilities can remain independent, active and optimistic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is hardly ever too late to change risky behaviours to promote health, for example, the risk of premature death decreases by 50% if someone gives up smoking between the age of 60 and 75. Health promotion involves doing things to prevent disease and to improve overall health. It also helps older people and their communities to increase control and improve their health and well-being.

It is widely believed that health promotion for a long, healthy and active life should ideally begin as early as possible, since habits form when we are young and may well be maintained into old age. Older people sometimes face challenges in trying to remain active and healthy. This is why health promotion is extremely important. It teaches people the value of taking on a healthy lifestyle which contributes to improved physical, mental, emotional and social health. Health promotion is about changing attitudes to ageing and retirement, “Growing old does not always mean growing sick and weak.”

Health promotion for the elderly has a key role to play in reducing the disabling effects of illness among those who are already sick. Early detection and treatment of the illness is essential in enabling the elderly to cope with an illness and to prevent the onset of psychological distress and withdrawal from society. For many older people who are unwell, housebound or living in a nursing home, measures which enable them to remain mentally and physically active and to participate in the wider community are essential for improving their quality of life. Health promotion improves quality of life by encouraging people to increase their capacity in their daily tasks. It also promotes positive attitudes by enabling older people to focus on what they can achieve as opposed to what they cannot.

Health Promotion improves quality of life by promoting healthy attitudes to diet. Healthy eating is just as important for older people as it is for everyone and eating should be enjoyable. It is imperative that older people consume the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables and these foods strengthen the immune system reducing the risk of infection and hospitalisation.

Finally, health promotion encourages older people to engage in social interaction which reduce the risks of isolation and loneliness. It also motivates people to engage in physical activities such as walking and swimming to name but a few. These activities strengthen the heart, lower blood pressure and help to maintain joint flexibility. Staying physically healthy, socially active and mentally engaged as you age are contributing factors to improving mental health.

Therapeutic Interventions

Therapeutic Interventions are open to all older people who are ready to engage in them. They can help you find new ways to work on your difficulties, express yourself, learn new skills, become more active and also help you socialise. Listed below are 2 examples of Therapeutic Interventions.

Music Therapy for the elderly is becoming extremely popular. They help the elderly deal with age related problems such as stress, depression, chronic pain and memory loss. Listening to music has been found to help people relax and reduce stress. Music is known to bring people together. In music therapy programs the elderly are encouraged to communicate and connect with other members in the group and making new friends. The social aspect of music therapy eases the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Music therapy is shown to also improve cognitive ability in older people. Weather it’s by listening to music, playing an instrument or singing along with friends can have a positive effect on the elderly person’s mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Aqua Aerobics is an effective way to keep active. It can relieve arthritis and joint pain while increasing bone density and muscle mass. Aqua Aerobics exercises the entire body, allowing the elderly to improve their coordination and control and range of movement. The movement of the water supports the weight of the body and makes it easier for the older person to stay balanced while they are in the water. When recovering from a fall or after an operation such as hip replacements, aqua aerobics can be a suitable form of exercise. The water provides support that helps the older person to stay active and exercise their joints and muscles without the heavy impact and strain of walking/jogging. Group aqua aerobics classes provide social interaction. They can enjoy exercising with others as well as the opportunity to gain new friendships after classes.

Family Members as Partners in Caring for the Older Person

Family play a significant role in the lives of their loved ones. It is a place where a person finds and expects the most encouragement, comfort, security and help if needed. Family also play a vital role in the care their elderly family members receive. It is important that family members encourage the older person to stay active and engage in activities they are able to participate in, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Family members should also promote independence by focusing on the older persons strengths, by allowing them to do what they are able to do, at their own pace. Family members need to remember that it’s not easy for the older person as they may be seeing their bodies and minds beginning to deteriorate and this can be extremely frustrating for them, this is why family members should educate themselves about the impact an illness can have on an older person. It is important that family members include the older person in all family occasions, stay involved in their life and keep them up to date with family matters. Communication is very important, family members must include the older person while having conversations about their life and health.

The importance of family rises with age as older people need more help and support in their later life. Family provides different forms of care, support and assistance. These are especially important for older people with mental health history, immobility issues, disabilities and those residing in nursing homes. Family support influences the care older people receive when living in nursing homes. Infrequent contact with family members contributes to a sense of isolation and loneliness for older people, it is important that family members stay involved in their life and visit frequently. Family members should also encourage them to express any worries or fears they may have and to listen to what they want and what they have to say.

Conclusion

To conclude with this assignment I have gained a greater insight into the care of the older person. We live in an ageing society where people are living longer and need care in their everyday lives, whether they are cared for by family members or healthcare assistants. I found it very interesting learning about the role of the carer and how they must listen and show compassion and respect at all times. There are so many organisations that are available to the elderly who do tremendous work in not only helping them, but encouraging them to live an active life. I also learned about how other cultures provide care for their elderly population. Finally, I learned about the wide range of therapies that are available to the elderly and how they enhance their lives.

Bibliography

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