In the United States, 14.5% of the population was 65 years or older in 2014, which equates to approximately 46.2 million people. The ‘Baby Boomers’ are entering their retirement years now and people are living longer due to the recent advances made in medical science. As a result, this aging generation will require care and support in their twilight years.
This is why the demand for gerontological nurses is increasing rapidly. More and more nurses are opting for gerontology nursing programs in foreign countries. This field will continue to grow as the population of older adults is expected to reach 21.7% of the total population by 2040.
Who are gerontological nurses?
Gerontological nurses are the nursing professionals that specialize in caring for elderly people. They are trained to work with older adults, their health issues, their families, healthy aging, etc. In addition, they are trained in primary and acute patient care, as seniors require care according to their health, medical conditions, etc.
How is caring for seniors different?
- Due to aging
- Due to the chronic health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular issues and dementia
- Complex healthcare needs
Nurses, who are trained in gerontological or geriatric nursing, are the ideal professionals to care for the aging population. However, many aren’t prepared for such responsibilities, as they aren’t certified in geriatric care. Most gerontological nurses take care of seniors at healthcare centers. A lack of training, knowledge and experience may affect the quality of care. That’s why it’s vital that nurses are prepared for this responsibility.
How nurses can prepare themselves for gerontological nursing
- Gather complete and inclusive knowledge of the aging process and its effects on seniors. Be aware of the physical and mental effects.
- In nursing school, opt for a specialized nursing study program that includes gerontological nursing, as it will provide you with the knowledge and training you need.
- During supervised clinical practice, students can choose gerontological care, which will prepare them for their future job duties.
Geriatric nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and community health centers where they provide care, compassion and friendship to their patients. They also deliver in-home treatment to patients who require regular medical assistance but can care for themselves predominantly on their own. Geriatric nurses will also likely encounter patients with diminishing mental capacities who lose their ability to make independent decisions about their health.
The responsibilities of a geriatric nurse are –
- Assisting physicians during exams and procedures
- Performing patient medical tests in-home or in a medical office
- Establishing a patient care plan and setting health goals
- Administering medications to patients based on a care plan
- Teaching family members about a patient’s condition and how to promote self-care skills
Conversely, longer life expectancy and declining fertility rates has increased the elderly population along with the care demands for them. Gerontological nurses are trained for this specific purpose. With the rising elderly population, the demand for trained nursing professionals is increasing, too. Moreover, gerontological nursing is expected to become one of the most popular fields in healthcare in the upcoming years.A bright career in gerontology is awaiting nurses.
If you are a nurse and wish to make a career as a geriatric nurse in Canada, contact us today. INSCOL offers a graduate certificate in gerontology from Niagara College in Canada.
Author – Shalini Sharma