Aging affects different people in different ways. The obvious effects include the body becoming physically weak, muscles and bones losing their strength, slower reactions, less effective organs, and weakened vision. Additionally, even the brain starts to deteriorate.
This can make older adults struggle to remember facts or understand something new. There are also changes in the sleeping pattern that can impact their emotional and physical well-being.
Today, at least 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from one chronic health issue, with close to 77% suffering from various other chronic conditions. Apart from that, a significant section of senior citizens with serious ailments often complain about duplicate procedures and tests. They also report contradictory medical data and lack access to sufficient information regarding potential drug interactions.
If you thought that geriatric care was challenging, you were right. In this article, we will highlight the challenges in this segment and discuss how a primary care nurse can be of help.
Primary Care Nurses and Geriatric Care
A primary care nurse mostly works at the physician’s office and is also called an office nurse. They have the know-how about basic nursing processes with which they manage various medical problems, such as allergic reactions, colds, and minor ailments. Primary care nurses who specialize in geriatrics only deal with elderly patients.
Working in the geriatric section provides them with the opportunity to cater to a population that requires specialized quality care, understanding, and compassion. Similar to any patient group, even geriatric patients suffer from certain problems that require particular medical know-how, attention to detail, and a correct understanding of their ailments.
Therefore, online AGPCNP programs (Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner) can be of help here, as they provide candidates with the necessary training as adult-gerontological nurse practitioners.
This training can help them enhance their skill set for caring for the elderly in a meaningful way and advance in their careers successfully. Since these programs are part-time and available online, working nurses can also enroll and receive the necessary training.
According to the University of Indianapolis, the adult-gerontological nurse practitioner program is designed for registered nurses who wish to advance their careers. Leading universities with such courses helps nurses attain increased expertise in advanced nursing practice, resulting in better patient outcomes.
In these programs, nurses can develop clinical skills for caring for adults of all ages and receive training for an independent role as health system leaders and primary care providers. The programs offer assistance from advisors to help manage deadlines, and there is also a clinical placement department that provides local placements.
How do Primary Care Nurses Address Geriatric Care Challenges?
Primary care nurse practitioners face a few challenges when they provide care to elderly patients. Discussed below are ways that can help them resolve the problems with geriatric care:
Managing Loss of Independence and Self-Care
Geriatric patients might face a loss of independence and struggle with it. There are a few independent patients, but others might need assistance to deal with daily activities, for instance, dressing, eating, and bathing. Since they are losing out on their strength, these patients might be prone to sadness, shame, and anger as they try to cope with the situation at hand
A primary care nurse practitioner specializing in geriatrics can assist these patients in accomplishing their tasks. They spend time with them to ensure that they aren’t left alone when they need help.
For instance, a patient might suffer from mobility issues and need some help with bathing and moving around. They might be able to brush their hair and do similar tasks. The nurse practitioner encourages them to carry out the tasks they can to enhance their self-confidence, which goes a long way toward eventually healing them.
Assessing the patient’s functional status regularly is a good way to determine their requirements. Here, the Katz Index of Independence is useful for shedding light on performance issues and capabilities. It also helps to create and execute a stable treatment plan.
Coping With Dementia
The challenges faced by patients with dementia can make it difficult for them to go about their daily lives. Coping with the situation can also be challenging for the patient’s caregivers and family members. Furthermore, dementia patients might have difficulty communicating, requiring caregivers to possess strong observation skills and patience.
Nurse practitioners can be of assistance by prescribing the necessary medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, and by managing other conditions that can exacerbate dementia, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. They also help patients by providing physical therapy to prevent falls and by offering occupational therapy to support their independence in daily living activities.
Resolving Neglect and Abuse in Geriatric Patients
Elderly patients often experience mistreatment that needs to be detected and addressed. Not every sign of abuse is easily recognizable. Abuse can encompass sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, as well as financial exploitation, and may also involve abandonment and neglect.
Such mistreatment can lead to severe outcomes that are harmful to the well-being of the patients, resulting in psychological harm and physical injuries. However, some instances of neglect might be unintentional and may arise from the increased care requirements that caregivers might struggle to provide.
Nurse practitioners can recognize these signs of mistreatment, abuse, and neglect and work accordingly to address them. This can have a positive impact on elderly patients, helping them heal and recover more effectively.
Working as a primary care nurse in geriatrics is both rewarding and challenging. Being able to recognize the challenges that this section of patients faces leads to providing better care and treatment for them. That in turn leads to improved patient outcomes, which brings about a feeling of satisfaction in nurse practitioners.
Caring for elderly patients requires a fine blend of medical know-how and compassion. A primary care nurse can opt-in for the required academic degree to imbibe the medical knowledge, which itself will let them develop the critical skills to manage this section of patients successfully.