A registered nurse can opt to take up geriatric nursing, also referred to as gerontological nursing in some parts of the world, as a career option, by taking up some specialized training courses related to care and assistance required for older people, who are typically aged 65 and above.
The decrease in the mortality rate, thanks to the advancement in the medical services, and affordability of quality health care treatment by more number of people across the world, has resulted in increased number of baby boomers across the world. As a result, specialized care and attention for old persons, especially persons aged above 65 years of age
Providing health care and assistance to aged persons requires some additional skills and expertise, apart from nursing qualification and experience.
A geriatric nurse should –
- Have a better and clear understanding of the age-related changes that take place in a person – especially those in connection with the emotional, cultural, social, spiritual, physiological and psychological functioning.
- be capable of recognizing the rights of an aged person, competent enough to make his or her own decisions, and provide assistance in helping them make informed decisions
- be capable of easily identifying common problems and/or processes related to mental as well physical health
- have a better therapeutic relationship with the patient such that a feasible care plan can be formulated involving the patient and other family members
- educate the patient about the importance of involving in some sort of physical activities to keep their physical and mental health in better condition
- Teach the patients about the probability of contracting diseases like cancer, heart attack and stroke, and advise slight modifications to the lifestyle or pattern of living such that they can be better equipped and prepared to avoid such accidents.
- Act as a manager of the patient and oversee the day-to-day activities such that their physical health and mental condition is perfectly balanced. It includes involving the patient in some exercises, taking medications and meals at regular intervals and not getting over-stretched through stress.
- act as an advocate for the patient and ensure that the independence and dignity of the patient is not overlooked due to ageing
- Have adequate skill and expertise in using the latest advancements in geriatric nursing and provide the best of services to the old aged persons.
- be prepared to work in challenging situations – either in hospital, old-age homes or in a home setting as a full-time nurse or as a visiting nurse
- provide moral support and strength to the old persons and ensure that their quality of life in the last days will be as effective as they were in their youth or middle age
- coordinate with the other family members to provide better quality atmosphere and care to the aged persons, something like pre-palliative care nursing
- Also, be capable of extending support and assistance to the family members after the unfortunate demise of the old patient, succumbing to ageing.
- Ensure that emotional stress should not affect the quality of life of the aged persons.
These are some of the basic things that a geriatric nurse should be aware of and implement it on a daily basis in the care of old persons.
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