Talking with Your Older Patient: A Clinician’s Handbook

New 2-Hour Online CE Course

Talking with Your Older Patient: A Clinician’s Handbook

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Advising an older man about starting an exercise program . . . counseling a woman about the proper way to take her osteoporosis medication . . . discussing end-of-life care options with the family of a long-time older patient who is dying. These are just some examples of the complex and sensitive issues facing clinicians who treat older people. Health care providers who communicate successfully with older patients may gain their trust and cooperation, enabling everyone to work as a team to handle physical and mental health problems that might arise. Effective communication techniques, like those discussed in this handbook, can save time, increase satisfaction for both patient and practitioner, and improve the provider’s skill in managing the care of his or her patients. Ongoing communication is key to working effectively with your older patient. If a patient does not follow recommendations or starts missing appointments, explore whether or not a difficulty in communication has developed. Paying attention to communication increases the odds of greater health for your patient and satisfaction for you both.

This course provides general advice for health and mental health professionals for working with older patients, their families, and their caregivers, based on a publication from the National Institute on Aging. Topics include being aware of perceptions about health care, understanding older patients, obtaining medical histories, encouraging wellness, talking about sensitive subjects, supporting patients with chronic conditions, breaking the bad news, working with diverse older patients, working with families and caregivers, talking with patients about cognitive problems, and keeping the door open to effective communications. The booklet also includes references to other useful publications and services for the elderly that can be used for referral purposes, including hotlines for obtaining information about assistance with caregiving, daily living, finances, health, household matters, nutrition, social support, transportation, and utilities. This course is intended for clinicians who would like an introduction to the skills of communicating with the elderly, or who would like to improve the skills they already have. Course #20-60 | 2008 | 66 pages | 15 posttest questions

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify common stereotypes about aging and ways to combat ageism
  2. Identify techniques for discussing difficult issues such as cognitive problems and delivering bad news
  3. List tips for promoting wellness among elderly patients, including exercise and nutrition
  4. Describe strategies for supporting patients with chronic conditions
  5. Identify the role of multicultural issues on patient’s attitudes towards medicine
  6. Describe important issues concerning the involvement of family and caregivers in medical discussions

About the Author(s):

The National Institute on Aging is part of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the Federal Government. Scientists at the NIA help to improve the health of older Americans through research. The NIA provides the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. The Center offers many free booklets, including this guide.

Accreditation Statement:

Professional Development Resources is recognized as a provider of continuing education by the following:
AOTA: American Occupational Therapy Association (#3159)
APA: American Psychological Association
ASWB: Association of Social Work Boards (#1046)
CDR: Commission on Dietetic Registration (#PR001)
NBCC: National Board for Certified Counselors (#5590)
NAADAC: National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (#00279)
California: Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625)
Florida: Boards of SW, MFT & MHC (#BAP346); Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635); Occupational Therapy Practice (#34). PDResources is CE Broker compliant.
Illinois: DPR for Social Work (#159-00531)
Ohio: Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501)
South Carolina: Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193)
Texas: Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) & State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678)
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