How are you supposed to approach a senior patient with autism? Is there any core method that all treatment team members should follow to help them throughout their stay at the nursing home? This article will discuss key ways to work with senior patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s essential for all caregivers, including CNAs and direct-care workers, nurses, social workers, therapists, etc. They give home care assistance to read through this list to know what strategies they should be attaching themselves to make sure seniors with autism receive the best possible care.
How can you handle senior patients who have autism? What steps should staff members take when interacting with teens and older adults who have ASD? The following list provides key strategies to help you manage your patients with autism.
Remain calm around the patient even if they become agitated.
Be aware that not being able to communicate conventionally can be frustrating for seniors with autism, and this could cause them to lash out at others, including caregivers. Suppose a senior becomes aggressive or starts acting strangely. In that case, it’s crucial for every team member who works directly with them to remain as composed as possible when trying to diffuse the situation. Keeping your emotions under control will make it easier for you to figure out what approach to take when handling cases where your patient is getting upset/irritated/physically violent. In other words: don’t get mad or frustrated in return if your patient starts acting out in a way that might make other caregivers respond to them with hostility.
If you need assistance when trying to calm down an agitated patient, ask for it from others on the team.
Suppose your patient begins becoming aggressive, and there’s nothing wrong with their physical health (i.e., they don’t have a medical emergency). In that case, you should request backup verbally. It will help ensure the safety of both you and your patients because multiple people working together can usually come up with a better approach than just one individual at a time. Also, remember: since ASD affects how individuals behave and communicate, taking care of seniors who have autism requires more than simply knowing how to provide basic nursing and medical assistance.
Consistently make eye contact when you’re interacting with your patient.
One of the most common ways for patients to let others know what they need is through nonverbal communication, so understanding their behavior can be very important. Closing off from emotionally connecting with people who have autism by refusing to stare into their eyes will prevent you from fully understanding how they are feeling in certain situations or if something’s wrong. It, of course, makes it harder for you to respond appropriately. Plus, having a more open attitude toward these individuals will help decrease anxiety levels on both sides, which might help reduce aggressive behaviors too
Do not expect the patient to express wants and needs verbally.
Many patients with ASD (especially those who function at a high-functioning level) will not be able to speak on their behalf, no matter how hard they try. It’s best for staff members to stay updated on what types of assistance different seniors might need during the day and then check in with them throughout the shift (if possible) to ensure that everything is going smoothly from their perspective.
Get creative when finding ways for your patient to communicate.
Instead of verbalizing their thoughts/wants/feelings, individuals with autism may rely more heavily on nonverbal communication. They might have difficulty understanding what certain gestures, facial expressions, and postures mean in some cases. The best thing you can do becomes familiar with common types of gestures that people with autism use, including those that commonly indicate happiness/sadness or if they’re experiencing physical or emotional pain. It would help if you also kept in mind that patients who don’t understand the importance of eye contact may fidget underneath your gaze the same way you would expect a small child to do (for example).
Do not attempt to pressure them into speaking
if they cannot vocalize their thoughts/needs. It can lead to even more confusion, frustration, and anxiety in the patient. It’s best to understand why they are not speaking in certain situations before assuming something is wrong.
Pay attention to their interests when trying to communicate with them.
Suppose you can figure out what types of things your patients are interested in or passionate about. In that case, it will be much easier for you to initiate conversations with them throughout their stay. Individuals with ASD are often very aware/sensitive to how others react towards these topics or if someone seems distant from what they’re saying. You must do everything possible to maintain open-minded attitudes towards these individuals because this may help decrease anxiety levels on both sides, which might help reduce aggressive behaviors.
These are just a few tips for caregivers to know when handling senior patients with autism. Each person is different, so it’s important to understand what they need, how they act, and why they act the way they do. From there, you should be able to apply these pointers to your interactions with your patients on an individual basis. Partners can help too! Just remember that genuine care and respect toward seniors who have ASD go a long way.