During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of “resilience” gained more attention. Your resilience as a health care provider was certainly tested—and hopefully strengthened—and new challenges will arise to test our resilience again and provide opportunities to learn more about ourselves and each other.
What about the resilience of your patients, especially older adults with dementia? Resilience in older adults is described as the ability to achieve, retain, or regain a level of physical or emotional health after illness or loss. Consider all of the difficult life events that many (if not most) of your older patients have experienced…deaths of loved ones, loss of jobs, physical injuries and decline, wars, natural disasters, financial hardships and many others. Older adults, by virtue of surviving through decades of these life experiences, tend to be resilient.
Although they may not have been successfully resilient in all of these experiences, they have accrued some positive experiences in which they were resilient and motivated. When working with older adults who can benefit from physical resilience after an injury or illness, it’s helpful to explore their prior challenges and learn how they got through them. Then you can help establish and reinforce these strengths that suggest resilience and motivation.
For example, “When you had hip surgery 5 years ago, you got through that and were able to do more things with your grandchildren, so let’s keep moving now while you’re here recovering from your knee surgery”.
Or, “You said that it helped to look forward to going walking with your friends again while you were going through those tough chemo treatments a few years ago. Let’s list some activities you can look forward to doing after you leave the hospital this time, and work together to keep moving so you stay strong.”
Have a great week and Happy Labor Day!