Nonverbal communication. Typically, direct eye-to-eye contact used. Russians very respectful to elders. Use touch freely with family and close friends. Personal space varies - close for friends/family; more distant until friendship or familiarity established. Nodding is gesture of approval.
Greetings. Taken very seriously. May shake hands or kiss each other on each cheek, depending on relationship. Elders highly expected and greeted with titles of "Mr." or "Mrs." or with "Uncle" and "Aunt" even in absence of blood relationship.
Tone of voice. Sometimes loud, even in pleasant conversations.
Activities of Daily Living
Modesty. Gender of provider not an issue. When doing peri-care, some patients prefer opposite gender family member to leave room. May not save urine for intake and output for reasons of modesty.
Skin care. When sick, some do not prefer daily showering; prefer sponge baths instead. See also Hair care.
Hair care. Hair washing not done as frequently when sick, especially when in hospital, for fear of catching cold or headache. If hair is to be washed, shut room windows and keep room warm, turning on heater if possible.
Nail care. Should be kept neatly trimmed.
Toileting. If bedridden, will not demand to use bathroom. Use of urinals, bedpans, and commodes accepted.
Special clothing/amulet. Some elderly women may prefer to wear warm clothing on top of hospital gowns for fear of catching cold or pneumonia. Some orthodox individuals may want to wear religious cross necklace. Allow use of religious medallions and pictures of satins.
Self-care. Hygiene may be performed by patients, family member, or with help of nurse or nurse's aid. Maintain modesty and privacy issues with patient's opposite gender family member present.
Usual meal pattern. Three meals a day, lunch the heaviest. Snacks in between with chai ( hot tea) or fruit.
Special utensils. Silverware.
Food beliefs and rituals. When ill, prefer soft warm or hot foods. Please see Food prescriptions.
Usual diet. Russian food high in starch, fat, and salt. Please see Food prescriptions.
Fluids. Hot tea- chai (chi), lukewarm drinks such as plenty of water, and fruit juices such as cranberry and apple. No ice in drinks! Label water pitcher "no ice."
Food prohibitions. No pork or various shellfish with some Jewish and Molokan Russians. Need to inquire about other restrictions.
Food prescriptions. When ill, prefer hot soups, such as borscht, a vegetable, beet and cabbage soup; various light broth soups, such as chicken and rice soup; soft light (bland) foods such as oatmeal, ground meat patties, boiled chicken, baked and mashed potatoes, fresh fruit, vegetables, and plain yogurt. Drinks include chai, chai with lemon and honey or with various jams such as raspberry, strawberry, and lemon. Also hot milk with honey.
Pain. Bohl-yeet (pain) High pain threshold. Very stoic and may not ask for pain medications. Encourage pain medications as appropriate. Avoid offering morphine sulphate for fear of developing pneumonia and for fear of addiction. Will understand numerical scale of measuring pain.
Dyspnea. Odishka (dyspnea) May get anxious because of language barrier. Will accept oxygen.
Nausea/vomiting. Toshnata (nausea) Will accept nonpharmacological methods first. Offer lemon slices, ginger ale, mineral water, plain yogurt, and tea with lemon. May refuse to take routine medications when nauseated. Some nausea associated with taking too many medications, especially on empty stomach. (Some believe ingesting too many medications will poison body.) Most medications should be taken with snacks, such as crackers, etc.
Constipation/diarrhea. Regular bowl movements a priority. Offer prune juice and laxatives such as Milk of Magnesia or other laxatives of choice. Patients may refuse various procedures if "not feeling too well," nauseated, or constipated. Enemas widely accepted as general procedure for constipation. Will accept meds for diarrhea.
Fatigue. Ystalost (fatigue) Rest and sleep best prescription. Some may accept or refuse sleeping pills for insomnia. Russians consider good night's sleep essential, and some will be upset if procedures require disturbing their sleep. Explain need before bedtime,
Depression. De-pre-si-a (depression_ Most Russians do not like to take excessive medications. Discuss with patient and family. Spend time with patient to show that patient is cared for.
Self-care for symptom management. Usually relies on self-care first before seeking medical attention. See Home and folk remedies.
Concept of health. Regular bowel movements, absence of symptoms such as colds.
Health promotion and prevention. Good health maintained by dressing warmly, eating nutritious foods, having regular bowel movements, and exercising, such as walking in open air with some sunshine, and pleasant environment. In addition, if patient has fever and/or is diaphoretic, highly important to keep patient covered (not necessarily with heavy blanket) and to shut window. Russians believe they are most prone to catching pneumonia at this time. Staying warm, dressing warmly, and avoiding ice cold drinks when ill emphasized in health promotion and prevention.
Screening. Russians respect medical doctors and will disclose pertinent information. Russians often mistake registered nurses in U.S. for medical doctors because of RN's professional role. Will not usually go for screening procedures (i.e., mammogram) unless person feels something is wrong.
Source: Lipson, Juliene G., Dibble, Suzanne L., Minarik, Pamela A. Culture & Nursing Care: A Pocket Guide. The Regents. 1996