When you first begin your career as a nursing home CNA, you may feel elated that you will be providing care for elderly people who truly need you. The idea of making a difference in the lives of these people may be at the front of your mind and this can be an exciting feeling indeed! However, once you actually get to the heart of nursing home work, you may find that you were overly optimistic about how much “fun” providing your services would really be. The bottom line is that although being a CNA can be very rewarding and sometimes enjoyable, elderly patients can be very annoying. Just so you are prepared, here are of some of the most annoying things that nursing home patients tend to do.
When you show up for your shift and begin working on getting all of your patients cared for (and you typically have at least 10 patients each day), the overwhelming feelings can hit you right off the bat. You glance at your patient load and find yourself groaning out loud when you see that Mrs. Annoying is on your list for the day. The first few times you worked with Mrs. A, you thought that she was just so cute and sweet. However, as time goes by you find that she is only cute and sweet when you are jumping for her! This is the type of patient who rings her call bell for the slightest thing and expects that you drop everything you are doing to come help her choose a yarn color for her newest project or put her earrings back in her jewelry box. You will find that there are several patients like Mrs. A and you will get at least one of them every shift you work.
Another annoyance that you will find in many nursing home patients is their ability to talk- and talk and talk some more. At first it is endearing. You find them interesting and love to spend time chatting. However, when you really need to get to your next patient, Mr. A will no longer be fun and interesting. In fact, he will be- well, annoying! It is totally understandable that patients in nursing homes crave conversation, but when you have a job to do it can be very difficult to feign interest. Especially when you know you only have another hour before lunch and three more people to bathe, dress and get in wheel chairs!
The most annoying nursing home behavior in my book is the Dawdler. This is the sweet old lady (or gentlemen) who takes her time doing everything. Of course I do not expect an aged person to sprint across the room or dress themselves in seconds flat. What I mean by the Dawdler is the patient who wants you to show her everything in her closet before making a choice on what she wants to wear that day. She takes 10 minutes to wash her face and can never get her blouse to feel quite right. She is the patient that everyone dreads finding on their list and for good reason!
I am in no way trying to be disrespectful of the elderly people in the world. I could imagine that if I were made to live in a nursing home that I would want to keep company for as long as I could too. I would want things to be my way because I have lived an independent life up until it was no longer possible. I may would even want to pick though all my clothes before deciding what to wear since I had this option while living at home. It is easy to empathize with nursing home patients who have found themselves in a secured environment with restricted abilities. However, no matter how much I empathize with them, they can still be quite annoying – and who empathizes with me? I have to do the work of two people in only a few short hours! Overall, I love my patients but just like with my children, they can get pretty annoying. The key is holding onto your sanity while still making them feel important. This is a tall order but one that can be filled by the right person.
Expert Contribution by Tanya Glover, CNA
She writes candidly about the things she encounters while working as a CNA. Some of her popular articles include Goldilocks and the Three Nursing Assistants and Nursing Home Personalities 101