Good Essay About Nursing For An Aging Population
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The growing numbers of senior citizens in the United States creates a challenge for the nursing professions in terms of meeting the needs of this population outside the walls of a healthcare facility. For the purpose of this paper, the discussion will define a member of the aging population as age 65 and older. The last national census was in 2009 and at that time, the older population of people was 39.6 million (Aoa.gov, 2015 – opening page). This represents 12 percent of the total population of the United States or one out of every eight people. It is estimated that by 2030, this number will almost double at 72.1 million people with an estimated 19 percent of the total population. These numbers impact every facet of American economics, commerce, and the health care profession.
Senior Citizens Needs
Nutrition. A proper diet decreases the risk in later years of osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer (Nlm.nih.gov, 2015 – opening page). Foods selected should be low in fat and cholesterol, especially if they contain trans fats or saturated fats. For the nurse caring for an elderly person outside the health care facility, there are a number of factors to take into account in meeting his or her nutritional needs. There are psychosocial aspects of eating such as a physical inability to prepare food, loss of appetite, an inability to go to the grocery store, lack of funds for nutritious foods, and the ability to eat due to swallowing disorders, oral hygiene, or dental issues. Education is a large part of meeting the nutritional needs for a senior citizen.
Housing. Matherlifewaysinstituteonaging.com (2015 – opening page) discusses the trends for senior living today:
Seniors living at home have technology to promote a safe environment. There are also applications that allow a person to maintain as much self-sufficiency as possible.
Providers have access to older adults still living at home to encourage virtual activities to promote mental health through social connections. There are also services that cater to homebound seniors and provide care on location. With in senior living community, the same technology is available.
Care outside a health care facility is turning more the “person-directed” and establishing meaningful relationship. Senior community are attempting to create a living environment that doesn’t feel like an institution. Apartments are available for seniors would are only one step away from being able to live at home. A staff of clinically trained individuals are on hand for health care needs.
Staff members are trained past basic care skills to understanding that perceptions and attitudes of the elderly have important influences on their care. Activity directors have become “life coaches” with programs to promote expectations created by the seniors themselves.
Residents, whether at home or in a community, expect value and options. Convenience is an essential issue for them, followed by financial choices, programs designed for each person, and access to services and activities on demand.
Seniors living at home need regular inspections to assure cleanliness, repairs, and support for special needs such as railings or adaptations to furniture.
Medical Care. As people age, their medical needs change. The health issues of this population become more complicated and expensive for the system given the responsibility of caring for these people to the end of their lives. Scheduled visits by care givers are important to a senior still living at home as they become more dependent on others for daily needs. Some attendants can take the resident on outings for errands or social activities. Regular inspection of methods of medication dispensing will catch changes the patient makes without consultation and verify the correct prescriptions are filled and in appropriate containers. Frequent evaluation of seniors at home and in communities can catch medical problems before they escalate into expensive hospital stays.
Legal Assistance. Consultations and advice are free to seniors through community programs. Investigate local organizations such as the Elderly Legal Assistance Program (Aging.dhs.georgia.gov, 2015 – opening page). Legal issues are confusing for everyone and not just the aging. Mistakes can be expensive for seniors and it is important to address this need. Telephone, computer, or face-to-face visits can prevent costly errors later. Federal funding provides for legal information and counseling, representation, and educational opportunities.
Consumer Protection. Abuse, financial scams, Medicare fraud, and Social Security fraud are only a few of the ways people take advantage of the elderly (Usa.gov, 2015). Frequent visits to home-bound seniors and individual strategies for protection are always an important part of a care plan for a nurse assisting the aging outside a health care facility.
Caring for the Aging Population
Caring for the elderly using evidence-based practices provides a model for support and information (Ncoa.org, 2015 – opening page). Creating opportunities for program funding, improving the health of the senior, and creating relationships with community organizations are only a few of the benefits. The Center for Healthy Aging (same source under the tab “Offering Evidence-Based Programs”) offers assistance with program planning, implementation, recruitment and outreach, program evaluation, and strategies for the ability to continue offering the programs.
An article published in Professional Case Management discussed the importance of a transition program for frail, elderly adults to at-home placement (Watkins, Hall & Kring, 2012 – pg 117-123). The goals are to improve the quality of life, prevent returning to the hospital, and promote patient outcomes. Within the first 72 hours after admission, the provider completes an evaluation in the home. An assessment of the surroundings, evaluates individual medical aspects of continuing care, and makes referrals to other community services as needed. This is an opportunity for the provider to sit and encourage a conversation with the senior concerning fears and needs and to provide education on relevant topics. This practice continues along with telephone calls until the end of the enrollment in the program, from 1 to 4 months. Findings showed a 61 percent decrease in hospital readmissions for the population. Estimated savings in medical costs was $628,202 per year as compared with the cost donated for the program of $316,795. A survey of the participants at the end of the program discovered a 97 percent or higher satisfaction rating.
Malnutrition in the elderly is becoming a more common problem both in health care facilities and in the community (Maher & Elaidi, 2015 – opening page). In the face of demographics citing significant expansion in the number of elderly in the population, this issue is important to health care providers. Malnutrition is frequently missed or misdiagnosed due to improper screening. Complaints of loss of appetite, lack of documentation of decreasing body weight, inability to self-feed, and problems with chewing or swallowing did not receive proper attention. Referrals to dentists, rehabilitation programs, consultations on food preferences, documentation of body weight with comparisons to history, and nutritional consultations are ways to address the potential problems of malnutrition in the elderly.
Self: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, Nancy. I know you’re a very busy woman!
Nancy: You bet! I just wish there was some way I could take on more patients than I have. There are so many seniors in the community that need someone like me to act as a liaison between them and care providers, that there just aren’t enough of us to go around.
Self: Nancy, could you give me a brief overview of your typical day?
Nancy: Well, I have a list of five to seven patients to visit a day. In addition to that, I try to get in phone calls to another four or five. I have my visits mapped out to save time and I have a checklist for each patient in my phone that reminds me of any supplies or information I need to take with me for each one. When I first get into the house, I make a little tour to be sure everything is the way it’s supposed to be. I take a look in the cabinets and fridge to be sure there’s food, I check each room for cleanliness, I made sure there are plenty of clean clothes in case continence is an issue, and I check for things that might cause accidents, like a walker whose wheels are sticking or corners of the tile or rug that are coming up to catch a toe and cause a fall.
Self: I never thought of those kinds of things!
Nancy: Yep! I also make sure the locks on the windows and doors work so there’s some security if they’re living alone. I test the telephone to be sure it works, that the list of emergency numbers is either in the phone or by the phone in big print, and be sure the bills are paid for utilities so they don’t get too hot or too cold. I also check for hot water to be sure the hot water heater is working. Then I get to do nursing! (laughs)
Self: What are some of your responsibilities in that department?
Nancy: If the client needs wound care or anything like that, it comes first. If they need cleaning, I either do a quick wash or enforce the importance to them if they do it themselves. If they have a home visit for that, I make a note to check on the next scheduled visit. I make sure the medications are in the right compartments in the pill sorter and fill them if it’s time. I take the time to check on skin condition, nails on hands and feet, the mouth for oral care, and the scalp in case a condition has popped up or there are critters around. We have a nice talk and I evaluate if the client can get out to activities like at a senior center or encourage them to go out with friends if this is an option. I sort of give them the opportunity to talk about things that are bothering them and either make a note for a referral or give them education on how to address it. There are so many things I need to be able to look for and find solutions to that I could write a book!
Self: Is there anything else you can tell me, Nancy?
Nancy: This is a very rewarding job for me. You get close to the client and their family like they were your own. Sometimes they pass, but I know I did everything I could to make the time they had left the best it could possibly be.
Self: Nancy, I appreciate your taking the time for me.
Nancy: No problem! You have a nice day, okay?
Discussion. Nancy is a community nurse who works with the aging living in their homes in the community. She works in a low-income part of the city and understands the daily needs of her patients. It is necessary for her to consistently upgrade her education as technology and economics impact the cost of treatment and availability of community services.
The statistical numbers and information on the needs of the elderly in the United States provide the impetus necessity for provisions for care. The nurse in the community needs the education and motivation to assist these seniors as they experience increasing difficulty with the activities of daily living. For nurses given the responsibility for their care, it is important to understand how to recognize individual problems and the methods to address them.
Aging.dhs.georgia.gov,. (2015). Elderly Legal Assistance Program | Division of Aging Services.
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Ellis, J., & Hartley, C. (2008). Nursing in today's world. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer
Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Hartfordign.org. (2015). Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing : Home. Retrieved 20 February
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Maher, D., & Elaidi, C. (2015). Malnutrition in the Elderly: An Unrecognized Health Issue.
Matherlifewaysinstituteonaging.com. (2015). Trends in Senior Living | Senior Living Providers |
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Watkins, L., Hall, C., & Kring, D. (2012). Hospital to Home. Professional Case Management,
17(3), 117-123. doi:10.1097/ncm.0b013e318243d6a7
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