What does a Geriatric Aide do?

Sheri Cyprus

A geriatric aide cares for older people who require help with personal care. The word geriatric refers to the aged and the aging process. The elderly people needing geriatric aide care may live in a private home or nursing home or be a part of an adult daycare center program or hospital. They may have illnesses or just need help due to a lack of strength or a lack of resources. Geriatric aides mainly assist with personal care such as feeding, grooming, toileting, bathing and dressing, but they may do some cleaning tasks as well.

Geriatrics focuses on treating elderly patients.
Geriatrics focuses on treating elderly patients.

For example, a geriatric aide who provides personal assistance in an older person's home may also provide light housekeeping such as preparing meals and doing laundry. Geriatric in-home care aides may also administer medications or check blood pressure, converse with patients and help them attend social events. In community care settings, geriatric aides may be called geriatric nursing assistants as they usually report to nurses.

Geriatric aides provide personal care to elderly clients.
Geriatric aides provide personal care to elderly clients.

A typical work day for a geriatric aide in a nursing home or hospital starts with the aide receiving his or her day's tasks from a nurse. Each elderly patient may need different things. For instance, one patient may need weighing, while another may need her blood pressure taken or to be helped to walk in the garden for exercise. A day's work can actually be very challenging for a geriatric aide, as in addition to specific duties assigned by a nurse in charge, the aide must routinely assist a group of patients in personal care maintenance and this isn't always easy.

Geriatric aides may provide emotional support to the elderly.
Geriatric aides may provide emotional support to the elderly.

For instance, some elderly patients may be disoriented and may be uncooperative when the aide is trying to groom them or get them to use the toilet. Other patients may have disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and may be unintentionally difficult. A geriatric aide could have spent a lot of time grooming and dressing a patient right down to carefully buttoning the patient’s shirt and tying his or her shoes only to find, after leaving just for a few minutes to speak with a nurse or other patient, that the first patient has forgotten about going for a walk and has taken everything off and climbed back into bed. Some senior health care facilities may be short staffed and this may increase the workload of a geriatric care aide.

Geriatric aides may be in charge of distributing medications.
Geriatric aides may be in charge of distributing medications.
Geriatric aides need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with patients and their caregivers.
Geriatric aides need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with patients and their caregivers.
Geriatric aides may provide physical therapy support.
Geriatric aides may provide physical therapy support.
Geriatric aides work hard to provide respectful, loving care to their patients.
Geriatric aides work hard to provide respectful, loving care to their patients.
Geriatric aides may help the elderly with household chores.
Geriatric aides may help the elderly with household chores.
A geriatric aide may check the blood pressure of an elderly person.
A geriatric aide may check the blood pressure of an elderly person.

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