The importance of healthy aging cannot be overstated. As a result, the role of nurses in the care of elderly individuals is vital. This critical service requires a high level of sensitivity, awareness, and acceptance to ensure the best possible outcomes. Elderly care represents an intersection of best clinical practice and societal care. With informed, self-aware, and well-prepared nursing practice, sustainable care for the elderly can be achieved.
Who are Geriatric Care Nurses?
Geriatric care nurses are specialized registered nurses who provide essential healthcare services to the elderly. The term "geriatrics" was first coined in the 1940s. Since then, geriatric nursing care has evolved significantly to address the unique needs of the aging population.
Today, geriatric nurses are a crucial aspect of eldercare. Their primary responsibility is to help the elderly maintain their quality of life by administering medications, developing treatment plans, and monitoring vital signs. They also collaborate with other healthcare professionals to implement care plans and provide information and resources about patients.
Regardless of whether the elderly are at home or living in an assisted facility, the role of nurses in the care of elderly cannot be overemphasized. Geriatric nurses understand the ageing process to provide compassionate care and facilitate healthy ageing.
In-home nursing care and types
Elderly nursing care supports seniors who require additional assistance to live independently at home. Home care services can be beneficial for older adults who may need one or more types of care. These services are provided by registered nurses or personal caregivers who come directly to the patient's home. They range from specialized care, like dementia care, to general support, like companionship or housekeeping.
In-home nursing care can be divided into two categories:
Nursing care or home health care: Home nursing care is specialized medical care provided by registered nurses to patients with chronic health issues, injuries, or other disabilities. Home nursing care is multifaceted and intricate, involving skilled nursing tasks like administering therapy, using medical equipment, and taking appropriate measures to enhance health outcomes on behalf of the patients. They provide a wide range of services like wound care, medication administration, and health monitoring. They can also train family members to provide basic care procedures.
Non-medical care: Trained caregivers who are not licensed healthcare professionals help with instrumental activities of daily living such as meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation, and medication reminders. In addition, non-medical home care can also offer emotional support and companionship to patients who may be socially isolated or experiencing mental health challenges. Overall, non-medical care gives a flexible and personalized approach to caregiving that can be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of each individual.
Role of nurses in care of elderly, encompassing the maintenance of good health and well-being
The role of geriatric nurses is essential and diverse, encompassing various responsibilities. What sets them apart is their expertise and sensitivity to the unique needs of elderly patients. Nurses act as a support function to motivate and empower the elderly, utilizing their expertise in age-related issues to promote independence and functional abilities. With a holistic approach to promoting the health and well-being of the elderly, their responsibilities are:
Administering medications and treatment plans under the guidance of a doctor
Collaborating with doctors and medical team members to administer treatment for chronic conditions most likely to affect the elderly (e.g., heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease)
- Early identification of complex comorbid physical and mental conditions
- Assisting with and training patients on daily living activities, such as hygiene, toileting, medication management, and nutritional needs
- Assessing different levels of the functional, mental, and emotional status of older patients
- Implementing interventions and preventive care to reduce the risk of falls, malnutrition, and other health problems
- Promoting healthy lifestyles that can prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases
- Skills to provide optimal pain management and end-of-life care
- Provide training and motivation to patients and caregivers to handle age-related conditions
The role of nurses in the care of elderly patients is essential in ensuring that patients fully understand their health conditions, illnesses, medications, and treatments. They counsel patients on recommended self-care practices and assist in overcoming any obstacles that prevent them from making healthy decisions. With support and encouragement, nurses play a significant role in guiding older adults on their wellness journeys.
Role of nurses in Socializing
Positive social connections help improve the cognitive health of the elderly. Those above 50 or older may experience risk factors like living alone, losing loved ones, chronic illness, or sensory impairments that lead to social isolation or loneliness. It can be a serious and often overlooked issue that affects many. The focus of elderly nursing care is on discovering new social opportunities, building self-confidence, and leading a happier, purposeful life.
In India, it's uncommon for seniors to engage in hobbies, and only a few participate in community work. To stay mentally stimulated and active, gerontologists recommend that seniors create a daily routine of activities such as gardening, reading, writing, music, dancing, and playing board games.
Elderly nursing care facilitates participation in daily activities by providing a structured routine. It allows them to engage in various activities such as:
- Physical exercise, yoga, or walking in local parks or outdoor spaces
- Facilitating connections with family members and loved ones who may be living in other parts of the country or abroad through video calls or messaging apps
- Brain-stimulating activities like crossword puzzles or Sudoku for mental stimulation
- Participating in traditional social events and cultural activities, such as festivals or religious ceremonies
- Enabling them access to technology
Overall, the role of nurses in the care of elderly is multifaceted. It encompasses not only socialization and engagement but also learning, empathy, and increased self-esteem.
Essential role of nurses in care of elderly individuals with Dementia
In the absence of any cure, patients with dementia and Alzheimer's require specialized care. And Providing care for these patients is particularly challenging. Geriatric nurses have special training and expertise in these conditions to act with patience and empathy while dedicating ample time to their needs. Since it’s a progressive disease, the role of nurses in care of elderly with comorbidities become
indispensable in maintaining their quality of life and independence for as long as feasible.
Nurses offer direct care to patients, easing the burden on family members. Alzheimer's and dementia elderly nursing care includes educating patients and families about treatments, symptom progression, and interventions and coordinating services with other specialists. Depending on the stage of disease progression, care can be provided in both clinical and home-based settings. The key duties and responsibilities of nurses are:
Create care plans and establish daily routines.
- Assist patients with self-care tasks such as hygiene, eating, toileting, and exercise
- For patients with cognitive or motor deficits, nurses provide additional support with these activities.
- Ensuring patient safety and minimizing the risk of falls, injury due to disorientation or confusion is also crucial
- Managing behavior problems, anxiety, and anger
- Encouraging patients to spend time socializing with family and friends
Elderly care at SenOcare
Not every elderly has the same level of care needs. Thus not everyone requires the same type of elderly nursing care. You can rely on SenOcare to provide personalized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. We thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence and stay in the comfort of their homes. Our holistic care approach addresses physical needs and emphasizes healthy lifestyle habits and social connections. Call us at +91 8800 700 100 or email us at [email protected] for more details.