As a natural part of the human life cycle, age is something we’ll all confront eventually. Our bodies go through many changes and can start to wear out as health problems arise. Since our elderly community needs more time and attention than most other age groups in order to stay healthy and happy, geriatric nursing is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
With advances in medicine and life expectancy, our senior population is projected to grow to over 98 million people by 2060 — that’s over double the number in 2014! Considering that the demand for nurses is already steadily growing by itself, the need for geriatric nursing professionals is only going to increase.
So What’s Involved with Geriatric Nursing?
Because many seniors find themselves dealing with fragile health issues that can quickly spin out of control, geriatric nurses or gerontological nurses specialize in elder care. They are trained to perform traditional nursing duties, possessing specific knowledge on the needs of aging adults and how to care for them. However, there can be an added level of difficulty that comes with this form of nursing that requires a very special type of nurse to really succeed in the field.
Working with seniors can be incredibly rewarding and personally gratifying, though it can have its moments of difficulty and frustration. Since the aging process affects everyone differently, you’ll be sure to see a wide range of medical situations and responses to someone’s individual health conditions. Sometimes even more than being a nurse, you may find yourself acting as an advocate for your elderly patient. In the event that family members are absent or a person is unable to make safe decisions for themselves, you may be one of the only people working to help them.
Some of the main duties involved with geriatric nursing include:
- Administering medications correctly
- Assisting with daily bathing, dressing, feeding, etc.
- Exercising or massaging patients
- Recognizing signs of elder abuse
- Counseling individuals and their family on senior health
- Acting as a liaison between a senior and their healthcare provider
- Working to provide the best quality of life for someone with failing health
A True Test of Nursing
Nursing in and of itself can be a stressful job, although most wouldn’t trade it for the world. Throw old age into the mix and you’ve got to be the cream of the crop when it comes to healthcare. Our seniors are walking libraries of experience and deserve every bit of care they can receive, so even on their hardest days you’ve got to be positive, upbeat, and always willing to help.
Beyond the specialized care geriatric nursing demands, you’ll be a friend to your aging patient and someone they can trust and depend on. It could be that they’ve outlived many friends, family, and loved ones, so showing them what it means to care for others is vital to your success. As things progress, you may also find that you’ll have to deal with letting go of a patient — but not before you’ve done your best to make sure their care is done justice in your hands.