How to Deal with IV Therapy Distress with Elderly Patients

Patient anxiety is very common when it comes to intravenous procedures. And it usually increases whenever the healthcare provider is about to start a venipuncture. Whether the stress experienced by patients derives from real or perceived worries, nurses need to address it. After all, pain is a major stress accelerator.

Both anxiety and pain anticipation can trigger the autonomic nervous system to move blood from the peripheral veins to the central core.

As a result, it will likely cause peripheral vasoconstriction – which is an important concern when it comes to IV procedures. Vasoconstriction makes the veins less visible to the nurse, which then makes the venipuncture more difficult, often resulting in more discomfort for patients.

The psychological aspects of infusion therapy have very practical implications. And they might be even more serious when it comes to elderly patients.

People in this age group tend to have a negative association with infusion therapy from their childhood.

Until a generation ago, IV therapy was only used in the most critical of cases. So now, when this type of intervention is ordered, many patients believe they’re critically ill despite clinical diagnosis.

The truth is that technological advances have really helped to improve IV therapy. For example, using IV catheters instead of needles has greatly reduced complications and pain for the patient. Today’s catheters only leave a soft, flexible cannula in veins.

Still, finding techniques to reduce stress and anxiety before and during a venipuncture is a big responsibility for nurses.

These are some proven ways to deal with IV therapy distress for elderly patients:

– Confidence

Confidence does not imply arrogance or bluffing. Your confidence calms the patient. Nurses can use both words and diversions to put patients at ease. An attitude of empathy can reduce patient stress and anxiety.

– Humor

Laughter is an excellent way to relieve tension. Before the patient can refocus, the IV insertion can be quickly and expertly performed. There are, however, some situations where humor won’t work. But if you can manage it, laughter can be an excellent tool.

– Communication

Many patients discuss themselves, their kids, grandchildren, pets, work, or hobbies. The IV may be inserted while recounting their story or interests. By showing care and concern for the patient, you can also alleviate anxiety.

It’s important to remember that it may be difficult for older people to share their feelings.

Most older men were taught that outward expressions of emotion are inappropriate. Nurses also need to understand that patients may react differently to IV therapy depending on their culture. Being touched or exposed can generate negative feelings in certain cultures. In such cases, the nurse’s priority must always be to maintain the patient’s dignity.

You can count on IV Mastery to help you gain the knowledge and classroom experience to deal with these challenging situations.


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