If you’ve thought about becoming an aged care professional, it’s probably a fair guess to say that you like being around elderly people. It’s likely that you enjoy conversing with others, and have a caring and empathic nature. These qualities and others are critical if you have ambitions to make a career in caring for the elderly. But let’s look into this a bit more deeply to see if this career is a good match for you!
Our senior years are a special time. Contrary to our youth, when life is filled with potential and adventures to come, in our senior years we are faced with realities and limitations that are sometimes humbling, sometimes liberating, and at other times, downright frustrating. An aged care professional must be understanding of these changes and be able to support our senior friends with the transition into old age.
If you feel that you have a strong desire, or even a calling to be an aged care worker, here are six qualities that are essential for the profession:
Older people often operate on a time schedule that is different from yours. They may move and think more slowly, or want to repeat the same story. Naturally, this takes patience from those supporting them. Be patient, listen attentively.
2. A calm disposition
Aged care professionals need to dedicate their attention to caring for elderly people and avoid getting caught up in their own stresses and concerns. Unless you are at peace with yourself and your life, you may find it difficult to take on the dedication and responsibility of looking after others in need. Be honest with yourself and answer this question – can you cope with more?
3. A loving attitude
Having a loving attitude is different from being a ‘caring person’. Caring is looking after someone, or some thing, whereas being loving requires having love for whom you are looking after. Unless you can feel love and a deep sense of caring for your elderly patients you may find the environment challenging to work in long term. Building a mutual and deep connection with those that you take care of, irrespective of your pay or what the formal job description entails, is one of the lovely parts of this career!
4. Positivity and motivation
Sometimes the carer is the only person that is there for the elderly person to support and encourage them, stimulate their thoughts and give them a sense of optimism, enthusiasm and joy. A positive and motivated approach is a must.
5. Respect and kindness
All of us deserve respect and kindness, but particularly the elderly. Just because they don’t move or talk as quickly or may have compromised health, it doesn’t mean that they should be brushed aside. Many elderly people have a limited support system, too, particularly if they are living in a nursing home. This gives more reason for you to be supportive and understanding of their needs, giving them your attention and taking the time to listen to them. Showing respect also means protecting their dignity and modesty at all times.
There are several reasons why the elderly may feel vulnerable. As a demographic they are prone to depression, and many feel isolated and lonely. They have decades of memories and experiences that all provoke feelings, as well as continually being faced with the issues of loss and deteriorating health. Loved ones die, memories become more distant, certain activities are no longer possible. All of these things can add up to make the elderly person feel fragile, vulnerable or sad. Being sensitive to these changes and maintaining your empathy and understanding are essential for achieving a deeply rewarding career as an aged care professional.
Sage Institute of Aged Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
Latest posts by Vicki Tuchtan (see all)
- Do you have what it takes to be a PCA (Personal Care Assistant)? - December 22, 2016
- PCA Courses: all you need to know! - December 22, 2016
- Substance abuse stereotypes outdated by new info on Australia’s seniors - December 20, 2016