The elderly have unique psychological, social, emotional, and physical needs that require nursing attention. Nurses who care for the elderly are usually involved in dealing with age related problems as well as treating chronic illnesses and some which are also related to the age. The main areas of involvement by geriatric nurses include preventing or delaying the onset of illnesses as well as working together with the families of the elderly in managing those with chronic illnesses. The elderly in America are particularly prone to chronic illnesses where among the 70 million of Americans aged 50 and above, four out of five of them suffer from a chronic condition (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2009).
Roles that Nurses Offer to Adults over 50
There are three main roles that nurses offer to the adults over 50 years include managing their health status in primary care, engaging in counseling, communication, collaboration, and teaching the elderly in a caring manner that also reflects professionalism and ethics and finally negotiating on behalf of the elderly in primary health care within the health care delivery system. These roles involve a lot of tasks which aim at ensuring that people over 50 receive quality healthcare, and they remain in good states of health (Lippincott’s Nursing Center, 2012).
Managing their Health Status
People over 50 are faced with four types of problems that necessitate nursing care. These include the deteriorating health status associated with age, having more than one chronic illness, functional and cognitive limitations and poor mental health status. A nurse has a role to manage the health status of these people at the primary care level. This will require a nurse to understand the physiological changes associated with aging that affect the way illnesses influence the older people. A nurse is also required to monitor a way the body of the aged responds to treatments and also the appropriate treatments for people over 50s. Through this involvement, a nurse has a great impact on the health of the seniors. She is able to find tools that can empower the seniors on how to manage their health. Managing the health status of the seniors will also require continuous monitoring of their health status, and this will help the seniors to remain aware of their progress. The nurses will also be able to monitor adherence to medication for those with chronic illnesses. This is because failure to adhere to medication is one of the barriers to improvement of the health status. Therefore, it is an important role regarding the health status of the seniors (Scholder, Kagan & Schuman, 2004).
Engaging in Counseling, Communication, Collaboration and Teaching the Elderly
People over 50s have conditions that do not require medication but must be treated through counseling, communication, and education. This may be conducted in collaboration with the family members and other care givers. Counseling may be important especially to those suffering from depression due to inability to cope with life changes that come with aging such as retirement. Facilitating communication between the elderly and their family members may be important especially to ease the boredom that results from decreased activity level. The elderly also need to be educated on their personal safety and how to prevent diseases (Royal College of Nursing, 2000).
This role can impact the health status of the seniors by enabling them to take care of themselves independently as well as engaging them psychologically to avoid depression. This role will also help the seniors to adapt to the challenges of old age. Those facing problems of adjusting to life after retirement will also be counseled on how to cope with difficulties. This is of great importance because failure to manage the old age life results in various health conditions that may lead to early death. Enabling the elderly cope with changes is also important to the seniors’ health. It makes them have a positive attitude towards the life ahead. Educating on their personal safety also lessens a burden of care givers. Issues such as failure to adhere to medication will be avoided.
Negotiating within the Health Gare Delivery System
The elderly, being a minority group, is likely to experience problems especially while communicating with the clinicians. Communication failure may jeopardize the outcomes of health care management. The nurses, therefore, play the role of negotiating on behalf of the elderly within the entire heal care delivery system on some issues concerning them. Some of the elderly people have cultural issues that hold them, and the clinicians may not recognize them. The role of a nurse is to identify any issues that may be holding successful care management back and communicate it to the clinicians (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2009).
This role is very important to the health status of the seniors because the nurses will ensure that every aspect of their health is well taken care. It is, however, important that the elderly open up to the nurses and feel free to discuss with them some of the issues affecting them. This will enable a nurse to present their issues within the health care delivery system.
Legislative Agendas to Support in Expanding the Role of Nurses
Due to the quality of care offered to the elderly in America, their number is on increase following the increased life expectancy. Changes are also taking place in the environment that also affects the health status of the elderly thereby predisposing them to various environmental factors. This has changed the disease patterns among the elderly (Gillanders & Buss, 1997). There is, therefore, a need to review the legislation governing the health of the elderly. Some of the changes that should be made regarding the roles of a nurse among the elderly include reforming the nursing education system to incorporate some of the modern happenings to produce more advanced practice nurses. This means that the nursing training should be reformed to ensure that the nurses are able to deal with the modern challenges that are facing the elderly. The other reform that needs to be made is to establish a source of funding that can sponsor geriatrics nursing education. This is due to the high cost of training that has locked many people out of the geriatrics nursing field. This will enable more people to train, and this will increase the workforce that offers various nursing roles to the elderly. Another change that can be done is to allow the nurses to deliver care to the elderly at their places of choice. For example, some of them would like to be taken care of in their houses, some in hospitals, and others in their places of work. There should be flexibility in the mode of care delivery to ensure that care is delivered in a familiar environment. These changes will ensure that there is a better outcome from roles of nurses to people over 50s (AARP, 2012).
The main aim of engaging the nurses with the elderly is basically to maximize their role fulfillment and independence in their environments. A nurse is, therefore, required to be there and offer personal support and expertise to enable these people follow their own paths independently. There is, therefore, a need for expansion in legislation regarding the role of the nurses to help offer a more integrative range of services to the seniors.