Geriatric Nursing Care is a Growing Specialty

By Karen Anne Wolf on Mon, Jul 08, 2013

geriatric nursing, elderly careDo you want to be on the cutting edge of nursing? The greatest area of potential job growth and evidence based practice for the future may well be geriatric nursing. According to the World Health Association, the world's population aged 60 and over will more than triple from 600 million to 2 billion in the next forty years. The fastest growing group is those over the age of 80. This increase in population is global.

No longer a concern of the more developed nations, the number of elders will rise in developing countries from 400 million in 2000 to 1.7 billion by 2050. The challenge that all nations face is how to promote healthy, active aging and quality of life, without over-medication and over-burdening our health care systems.[i]

In the major health professions such as nursing and medicine, there has been a significant lag in preparing graduates to care for older adults. While it is true that older adults compose more than 80% of nursing facilities such as nursing homes, in countries such as the US, they also they also use close to half of all hospital days, a quarter of ambulatory visit and more than 70% of home health services.[ii]

 

There is a growing demand for a skilled geriatric nursing workforce to provide quality care across a wide range of health care settings. The exponential growth in the health care costs for older adults creates a call greater accountability. There is mounting pressures for health care providers and settings to demonstrate cost effectiveness and safe, quality outcomes. Building nursing expertise in geriatric practice has been embraced by National Nursing Organizations around the globe.[iii] From expanding geriatric education in schools of nursing, to mandating evidence based geriatric practice in accreditation standards for health care settings, the push is on!

 

Around the world nurses are involved with preventing or delaying the onset of illness, partnering with elders and their families to manage chronic conditions. Despite evidence of the effectiveness of nursing care, geriatrics suffers from a stigma - too often viewed low skilled and “knowledge poor”. The sharp reality is the elder care is rapidly becoming the most evidence rich area for practice, with a need for skilled clinicians who can apply critical thinking and evidence to aging patients in communities to hospital and long-term care settings, and from preventative services to palliative to end of life care.

 

Geriatric nursing is rapidly becoming the next wave of nursing growth.  Stay on top by riding the “web-wave” to the resources below.

 

Expand your Geriatric Expertise with these resources for Geriatric Nursing:

 

The Hartford Foundation since the mid 1990s, the Hartford Foundation has led the way to building geriatric capacity and expertise. The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, located at New York University, is a project of the John A. Hartford Foundation. The foundation provides a nursing portal to Hartford Institute clinical resources as well as other clinical resources recommended in the care of older adults.

 

The ConsultGeriRN.org website includes evidence based assessment tools, practice protocols, and teaching resources including the “Try This/How To Series. This series provides excellent assessment tools for use in clinical practice on a range of important topics including such important geriatric care issues as dementia & delirium, assessing pain, feeding and eating issues, sleep disturbance, fall and skin integrity.  These Assessment Series videos and articles are published in a collaborative effort with the American Journal of Nursing.

 

Additional resources available through web access include The American Geriatrics Society publication: Geriatrics At Your Finger Tips (2008-9 online Edition). This publication is also funded by the John Hartford Foundation, and similar to the “Try This” series, this text provides concise information about a range of geriatric issues and also provides assessment tools to use in practice. 

 

The Merck Manual of Geriatric, while medically oriented, provides a web accessible resource on a range of topics from the biology of aging economics of aging. The Merck Manuel similar to the Hartford Foundation provides information about common health issues in Geriatrics. Free web-access is available.

 

The American Society on Aging offers a “Blueprint for Health Promotion” and set of health promotion modules on such topics as “Cognitive vitality”, Driving Wellness, and Optimal Medication Use.

 

Journals

 

Geriatric Nursing Journal is the official Journal of the (American) National Gerontological Nursing Association. For more information on the journal visit Elsevier.

 

The Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

 

[i] See the World Health Organization Report

[ii] Kovner,CT; Mezey, M.;  Harrington, C (2002).

Who Cares For Older Adults? Workforce Implications Of An Aging Society

Health Affairs , (5):78-89.

[iii] Reinhard, S; Barber, PM, Mezey, M. Mitty, EL, Peed, JA. (2002). Initiatives to Promote the Nursing Workforce in Geriatrics: A Collaborative Report, Retrieved from: American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

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3 COMMENTS

Anonymous 3 years ago

As an Eldercare expert with over 30 years in senior care and advocacy, I hope the perception and stigma of geriatric nursing is changing. Historically nurses working in LTC facilities have been seen as substandard nurses who couldn't cut it in hospital nursing. Many LTC facilities have used contract nurses who bounce from facility to facility without knowledge of the patients or commitment to the facility. This has given geriatric nursing a bad impression. The nurses I have known and worked in LTC with regular positions are typically very good nurses with a love of the elderly. Geriatric nursing is a specialty just as pediatric nursing is. Patients present with different symptoms than middle aged and young adults. They have special requirements, considerations, and treatment needs. Geriatric nursing has enhanced my life and I hope incoming nurses can also see the value of this specialized area. We need great nurses in geriatrics, and the elderly deserve and need them too.


Beth Reynolds 2 weeks ago
I started nursing school because I saw the need for elder care when I witnessed my grandparents ailing health. I wished I could do more for them at the time, but I wasn't trained. I made the decision to go to nursing school...at age 40. I completed my general education credits in one year to complete the RN program. I am at the beginning stages of my clinicals (starting in the fall). I plan to get my BSN online as soon as I complete this stage. What can I do to get this specialized training? I want to work in the hospital setting as well as home health and hospice care. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous 4 years ago

I have been in Geriatric Nursing for 20 years and I am so pleased that information is being presented to the nursing public!! Geriatric nursing will see an "explosion" of this generations medical needs soon and this site provides different Wonderful info tools and methods nurses can utilize when sometimes all options seem to be exhausted! Thank you, I will continue to educate myself with this type of assistance and a variety of other educational offerings as well. Thank You !!