The Challenge for New Nurses When Caring for the Aged


Compassion and a nurturing nature are typical personality traits for any individuals who choose to enter the nursing field. A desire to help the sick and injured, as well as great determination, are also pre-requisites that equip these honourable people for their profession. When new nurses actually begin their first positions after completing nursing school, it can be extremely challenging to apply their knowledge in real life situations. This especially holds true for those who begin their careers by caring for the aged.  The elderly population has a unique set of needs that nurses must be prepared for when they put their training into practice.

Aging: A Natural Progression
As people head into their golden years, they will experience a natural progression as changes take place in their bodies. Some individuals will maintain greater mobility and better well-being than others, depending on their personal situations. The mission of all nurses should be to assist aging patients in having the best quality of life that is possible. Recommendations can be made for diet, nutritional supplements, forms of exercise, and other activities that can promote good health. When patients experience problems, nursing staff members need to team up with doctors to find solutions and provide comfort as well.

Geriatric Patients: Common Afflictions
When it comes to providing care, nurses need to be prepared to face a host of issues with each geriatric patient. No two patients will be identical in their medical concerns. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal problems, vision problems, diminishing hearing, and various cancers are par for the course. As people age, their bodies begin to show wear and tear brought on by the passing years. Lifestyles can have a major impact on the aging process as well. A patient at age 90 who made sensible choices over the years might be in better shape than an individual at age 65 who drank and smoked. Regardless of the physical and emotional condition of any patient, a nurse must assist the doctor in diagnosis, treatment, and management of any health problems experienced by geriatric patients. For those who are fortunate enough to be in good health without any concerns, nurses can provide helpful advice to ensure that their patients continue traveling the road to wellness.

A Helping Hand and a Shoulder to Lean On
In addition to navigating the murky waters when it comes to recognizing the diverse needs of the elderly population, nurses need to realize that they will be the lifeboat in the storm for many of their patients. As people age, they lose many of their friends and family members. Many patients may have no one to turn to in life to attend to their care. Whether they are living by themselves, living in a nursing home, or experiencing a hospital stay, their nurses and doctors may be the only people who care about them. Nurses need to have extreme patience and demonstrate a caring manner toward the aging. They may be the only light in the darkness of loneliness.


Geriatric Nursing: An Area in Hot Demand

The North American population is aging and the number of geriatric patients will only continue to grow. In addition, people are experiencing a longer life expectancy. Look in hospitals across the nation and half of the patients are the elderly. Few nurses actually become certified in geriatric care. However, most nurses will work with aging individuals at some point in their careers. They need to recognize the fact that this population will require special care and nurses will have to step up to the plate. For nurses entering the field for the first time, there are good prospects in the field of geriatrics. Whether caregivers choose to dedicate themselves to the aged, or find themselves dealing with aging patients, they must always take the time to truly understand each individual in their care. Nurses are likely to deal with a mixed bag of issues that include physical maladies, mental issues, and emotional concerns. If they commit themselves to finding answers for each, aging patient, nurses can truly make a difference in the lives of senior citizens. They must face each challenge with optimism and the conviction that aging individuals deserve only the best in care.

Resources for Gerontological Nursing:

Canadian Gerontological Nurses Association

Gerontology Specialty Certification – Canada

British Geriatrics Society

Geriatric Nursing – Johnson & Johnson

Ryan Hughes is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. He is in his final year of nursing at University of Derby, Nursing and Health School and is passionate about helping others and sharing his thoughts via the online world.

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