Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Nursing Care in the Geriatric Population

Topics: Health care, Health care provider, Medicine Pages: 6 (1866 words) Published: July 5, 2013
Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Geriatric Nursing Care Angelia F. Russell
University of Massachusetts Boston

Author Note
This paper was prepared for Nursing 360, Section 06D, taught by Professor Peterson.

The geriatric patient population is not only increasing in numbers and longevity, but also in the complexity of their health care issues and needs. On the raise as well are the barriers and prejudices with caring for the aging population amongst healthcare providers. It is these barriers and prejudices that hinder healthcare providers to want to take the initiative to improve care for the aging. Preservation of our elder patient population’s dignity should be of the upmost importance. In order to preserve and maintain this dignity, as healthcare providers we need to understand what barriers and subconscious prejudices we may have and work to diminish.

Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Geriatric Nursing Care In September 2010, the American Association of Colleges for Nursing’s wrote, “Older adults constitute a majority – and growing – proportion of people who receive nursing care in the United States” (p. 7). Potential complications related to the increased longevity and duration of chronic illnesses are also on the raise with the elder population. In order to prevent these potential complications, healthcare providers need to remove the barriers and prejudices they may have in order to provide the aging client with the most optimal care.

This following questions need to be addressed by the healthcare provider: 1. What are the healthcare provider barriers?
2. Ageism, is it a healthcare provider prejudice?
3. How do we as healthcare providers diminish these barriers and prejudices?

Answering these questions will assist the healthcare provider in gaining a better understanding of the aging population. In addition, by understanding what our barriers, prejudices, and in other words limitations we may have, we may begin to understand where they have originated and begin to diminish their effects on how we treat and respect our elders.

Healthcare Provider Barriers
According to Fox (2013), “Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people aged 65 and older will increase by 135%” (p. 52). With such a significant raise of this segment of our population, the need for specialists in the area of geriatrics will become more in demand. Geriatric specialists trained in helping alleviate some of the issues related to the aging population and the treatment of their chronic illnesses. The elder patient is not just an older adult and should not be treated as such. According to the Center for Disease, “About 80% of older adults have one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two.” Their metabolism or the way their bodies work is so different compare to the 20, 30, 40 year old adult.

There are numerous barriers that the aging population may have, but according to Bennett and Flaherty (2003), the four main barriers for the elder population to overcome in order to achieve optimal care from their providers, “providing resources to individuals to help manage chronic medical conditions, assuring a sufficient number of primary health care providers educated in geriatrics and gerontology, removing financial barriers to accessing health care and medications, and changing the cultural value system that emphasizes disease treatment over providing emotional, educational, and support resources.” According to the CDC, “About 80% of older adults have one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two.” A chronic illness is “a condition that last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention and/or limit activities of daily living” (Warshaw, 2006, p. 5). Chronic illnesses or conditions and limited knowledge in their treatment can lead to disability, increased hospitalization, a decrease in activities in daily living, increased length of stay at rehabilitation centers,...

References: American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (September 2010). Recommended baccalaureate competencies and curricular guidelines for the nursing care of older adults. Retrieved from
Benjamin, R. (2009). Report of the council on ethical and judicial affairs: Financial barriers to health care access, CEJA Report 2-A-09, 1-5. Retrieved from resources/doc/code-medical-ethics/90651a.pdf
Center for Diseases. (2011). Helping people to live long and productive lives and enjoy a good quality of life. Retrieved from AAG/aging.htm
Bennett, J., Flaherty-Robb, M., (May 31, 2003). "Issues affecting the health of older citizens: Meeting the challenge". Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 8 No. 2, Manuscript 1. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.
Fox, J. (January 2013). Educational strategies to promote professional nursing in long-term care: An integrative review. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 39(1), 52-60
Grossman, S. & Valiga, T. (2009). The new leadership challenge: Creating the future of nursing. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company
Harvath, T., Beck, C., Flaherty-Robb, M., Hartz, C., Specht, J., Sullivan-Marx, E., Archbold, P. (2006). Best practice initiatives in geriatric nursing: Experiences from the John A. Hartfort foundation centers of geriatric nursing excellence. A Nursing Outlook, 54, 212-218
Simkins, C. (2007). Ageism 's influence on health care delivery and nursing practice, Journal of Student Nursing Research, 1(1), 24-28.
Warshaw, G. (2006). Introduction: Advances and challenges in care of older adult with chronic illness. Genereation. 30(3), 5-10
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