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How Home Health Workers Can Help Manage Clients’ Moods

Caregivers for elderly or disabled individuals often witness a range of mood swings and emotions in their clients. Individuals who aren’t as healthy as they once were, particularly those who have impaired cognition or communication abilities, may lash out at the people caring for them. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a caregiver to get caught in the midst of these unsettling emotions.

A caregiver can be the target of hurtful comments, agitation, and sometimes a client’s aggression. However, there are steps a home health worker can take to help manage the client’s moods and minimize the need for anti-depressant or mood-stabilizing medications.

1. Attend to the client’s overall needs.

The client is likely to be in a better state of mind if he or she is well taken care of each day. Do all you can to attend to the person’s physical and emotional needs. Get to know the client so that you can recognize when he or she is not feeling well or is struggling more than usual on a physical or emotional level. Knowing more about the client’s condition will make you a more effective caregiver.

2. Maintain an attitude of empathy.

When you work with individuals with debilitating medical conditions or dementia, there may be days when they become resentful, aggressive, and yell at you or blame you for anything that goes wrong. Continue to provide the client with the care he or she needs. Do it with a smile and kind words even if the person isn’t treating you kindly.

On really difficult days, imagine yourself in the client’s position. Understanding why the client is behaving that way can change the way you react. Think about what it must feel like to be in pain and dependent on others for your most basic needs.

3. Listen to the client’s fears.

Make certain the client knows that his or her concerns and fears are being heard. Mood swings can be caused in part by the frustrations individuals experience from no longer being able to do the things they once did. Needing a caregiver to assist with daily needs can cause frustration as individuals see themselves losing their independence.

Avoid taking it personally when the client lashes out and directs his or her anger at you. Instead, allow the client to vent and then verbally affirm his or her concerns. This lets the client know that you are listening. Listening connects you with the client by showing that you care.

4. Choose your battles.

If clients become combative or aggressive when they don’t get their own way, try to choose your battles based on the level of effect they will have on the person’s welfare. Remain firm when it comes to the client’s health or safety, such as in cases where the client refuses to take prescribed medications. However, drop issues that won’t have negative consequences or put the client’s well-being at risk. For example, if the client insists that the day is Tuesday when it’s Wednesday, let it pass to avoid frustrating the client more.

5. Help the client participate in activities he or she enjoys.

Even if the client no longer seems interested in previously favorite activities, encourage the person to stay as active as possible in hobbies and interests that he or she once enjoyed. Keeping the client involved in activities that bring him or her pleasure is an important step in helping to manage the moods associated with dementia or chronic and debilitating illnesses.

6. Consult with the client’s family and healthcare providers if the situation gets worse or fails to improve.

Even when you do everything you can to help manage the client’s mood swings and challenging behaviors, some individuals still may need medication. If you worry that certain behaviors are signs of depression or are putting the client at risk, report your concerns to the person’s family members and doctor.

For more information on home care, talk to a company like Anson CareGivers Inc.