I'm working an overnight shift and dispensing random advice to any readers out there. This is coming from the position of working as a CNA for the last year and a half (this chapter cannot close fast enough) while going back to school to be a RN.
Most CNA work involves the very old. I've mostly worked with rehab patients who come to our facility for a short time for physical and occupational therapy. Many had hip or knee replacements. They do not need hospital care anymore, but they aren't ready to go home and function normally yet, so they spend some time with us. But, I've also worked on our long-term care floors (read: nursing home). In either case, 99% of the patients I work with are over the age of 85.
You may have a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt or uncle out there who is such a person. If you do, this unsolicited advice is for you:
1. If you buy them clothing, make sure it is knit fabric and very stretchy. It gets very hard to move limbs around and force them into rigid shirts and pants when they reach this stage of life.
2. They are always cold. If you are thinking of a gift, I suggest a sweater or throw blanket.
3. WRITE THEM LETTERS. If I could show you how proudly these folks display correspondence from loved ones on the wall and how eager they are to tell you all about the person who wrote it, you would have already sent your letter. They love to know they aren't forgotten and to still feel a part of the family.
4. If you are sending food, check first to see what kind of diet they are on. It's a bad idea to bring someone their old favorite box of chocolates if they are now diabetic, on a puree diet for swallowing difficulty and unable to consume this tempting treat.
5. If you can, visit. Talk to the staff. Make it obvious that your loved one has loved ones, and you are watching to make sure they are taken care of properly.