Nurse aides are the first line in healthcare. We are the men and women that stand in front of patients and residents each day, we are in the trenches, soldiers against the bad and ugly in healthcare. If not for us, healthcare would be much worse for residents, patients, and their families…not to mention the staff that rely on CNAs to be their eyes and ears.

Nurse aides spend their days face to face with residents. In nursing homes the nurses are usually one to a hall or sometimes one to a unit. These nurses must spend their time making their rounds which includes giving medication and treatments. They often do not have the time to stay with one resident for more than a few minutes per shift.

On the other hand, CNAs are in and out of a resident’s room many times per shift. If there is no staff shortage, the aides are able to spend a small portion of time with the patient each time they provide care. Observant CNAs begin to pick up on subtle signs that a resident may be experiencing depression during these care sessions.

It is the job of the CNA to see changes in behavior. Depression in residents is a serious condition that can cause the resident to have a decreased quality of life. Not only that, the number of suicides due to depression in the elderly has risen significantly in the past few years.

You may wonder how someone that is under almost constant supervision could commit suicide. A person that is experiencing depression and is determined to end their life can do so. There have been reports of residents hoarding their pain medication until they have enough for a lethal dose. Hanging with sheets. Refusal to eat and drinking cleaning supplies.

By paying attention to behavioral differences you can help your residents that may be suffering. If it is found that they are in need of help, they will be able to receive counseling and possibly medication for depression.

Nurse aides can keep an eye out for: verbal aggression, sudden or increased incontinence, increased pain, weight loss, confusion, or a reduction in performing their activities of daily living (ADLs).