Health and MedicalServices

The role of geriatric nurses in modern-day healthcare

Aging is a reality of life. The US faces a unique challenge when it comes to its aging population. According to the Administration of Community Living, which is a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, by 2060, there will be 94.7 million people in the country aged 65 and older.

This rapidly growing segment of the population has special healthcare needs due to their age, chronic conditions and other factors. Hence, there is an uptick in the demand for geriatric nurses, who specialize in providing care and support to elderly adults. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not give separate projections for geriatric nurses, its estimates show that the growth of employment for registered nurses (RNs) from 2021 to 2031 is 6%.

If you are already a nurse practitioner and want to receive specialized education and training in gerontology nursing, the University of Indianapolis has the perfect online program. This online Bachelor of Science in Nursing-Doctor of Nursing Practice Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (BSN-DNP AGPCNP) program ensures that nurse practitioners achieve the highest level of proficiency in adult-gerontology nursing practices and primary care. As this program is part-time, you can accommodate it around your work schedule.

Before you decide to enroll in this program, read on to understand the significance of the role of a geriatric nurse and the different types of work settings you work in.

The significance of geriatric nurses in healthcare

Geriatric nurses are committed to providing high-quality, compassionate care to some of the most vulnerable members of society. Below are some of the reasons why gerontology nursing is a significant part of modern-day healthcare.

Demographic changes

As stated earlier, the elderly population in the US will increase significantly in the coming years. This means that there will be a growing need for healthcare professionals who are trained to care for the unique needs of older adults. Geriatric nurses are needed to provide specialized care that addresses the unique physical, emotional and social needs of older adults.

Unique care needs of older adults

Older adults have unique healthcare needs that require specialized knowledge and skills. They may have multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and dementia, that require careful management. Furthermore, older adults are more vulnerable to falls, infections and other health complications. Gerontology nurses are trained to offer comprehensive care that addresses these needs and helps older adults maintain their health and independence.

Improved health outcomes

Geriatric nursing can lead to improved health outcomes for older adults. With the help of nurse-led geriatiric nursing interventions, it is possible to decrease hospital readmissions, improve medication adherence, and reduce the risk of falls and other health complications. By providing high-quality, comprehensive care, these nurses can help older adults maintain their health and quality of life.

Work settings for geriatric nurses

As a geriatric nurse, you will have the freedom to choose your work setting. Below are some of the settings where there is a need for gerontology nurses.

Long-term care facilities

Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers, are constantly looking for dedicated and compassionate geriatric nurses. In these settings, the nurses provide 24-hour care to older adults who require assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. The nurses also monitor patients’ health, manage medications and provide wound care.

Hospice and palliative care

Many geriatric nurses feel that it is a calling to work in hospice and palliative care settings, where they can provide care and support to older adults who are nearing the end of life. These nurses focus on managing symptoms, providing comfort, and helping patients and their families cope with the emotional and spiritual aspects of end-of-life care.

Home healthcare

Some gerontology nurses prefer to work in home healthcare settings. Here, they provide care to older adults who prefer to receive care in their own homes. Home healthcare geriatric nurses handle medication management, wound care and assistance with the activities of daily living.

Hospitals

Geriatric nurses can work in hospitals to provide specialized care to older adults who require acute care for medical conditions or surgery. In a hospital, gerontology nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals to manage patients’ health and promote recovery.

Impacts of geriatric nurses on healthcare

Below are some of the impacts that gerontology nursing has on healthcare for older adults.

Improved quality of care

As mentioned earlier, these nurses are trained to provide specialized care that addresses the unique requirements of older adults. More often than not, the care for elderly people is patient-centric and is led by geriatric nurses. This helps to improve the quality of care that these patients receive.

Reduced healthcare costs

According to available statistics, nearly 75% of healthcare costs in the US are because of chronic conditions. As the elderly often suffer from one or more chronic conditions, it is important to reduce costs without compromising the quality of care. Geriatric nurses provide comprehensive care, which reduces hospital readmissions and also minimizes the risk of complications.

Improved patient and family satisfaction

Besides patient care, geriatric nurses also provide emotional and social support to older adults and their families. By offering compassionate care and support, these nurses enhance patient and family satisfaction with the healthcare experience.

Improved interdisciplinary collaboration

Aging is a complex process, and older adults can suffer from several health issues. Hence, when addressing the healthcare needs of older adults, it is important to have a multidisciplinary team. Geriatric nurses often collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, to provide comprehensive care to older adults. This interdisciplinary collaboration helps improve the coordination and quality of care they receive.

Promotion of healthy aging

Some older adults prefer living independently and in familiar surroundings. In such cases, gerontology nurses help them maintain their health and independence by promoting healthy aging. With the help of education and support from nurses, older adults manage chronic conditions, maintain healthy lifestyles and prevent health problems.

Geriatric nursing is a dynamic and rapidly evolving field. If you are compassionate and enjoy providing patient-centric care, this could be the right field for you.

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