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Geriatric Nursing: Five Ways to Improve In-Home Care

Career News March 17, 2013

Being a geriatric nurse is difficult at the best of times. One of the ways in which the elderly patients can retain their independence is to remain in their own home with treatment and medication. The National Center on Caregiving estimates that about seventy-nine percent of patients receive nursing help at home rather than in the long term care facilities. This may be the best option for patients, but the situation is challenging for nurses because of the vast difference between working in a medical facility in terms of the quality of care.

Positive Intervention

Studies of elderly patients have shown that proactive care works well with seniors. This care includes things such as interventions, making changes in the lifestyle and controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Geriatric nurses can establish an exercise program for patients that do not move around much, as well as monitor their diet. Chronic illness intervention includes exercises that increase the range of motion, promote strengthening of the muscles and cardiovascular exercise.

The emotional state of patients affects healing. Patients who are confined to the house may become depressed and withdrawn. Treating the mental state is also the role of the geriatric nurse. Making arrangements to take the patient to visit friends or group activities, as well as creating an active environment within the home are some suggestions for improving the patient’s mood.

Role of Technology

One of the main problems that seniors have is that they become bored. Technology provides them with the opportunity for entertainment, such as playing games and watching movies. Social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, enable them to keep in touch with friends and family. Nurses should take the time to introduce technology into their lives. This is also an approach that can be used for education about caring for oneself, managing diseases and other issues that are of importance to the patient. There are computers that seniors can use quite easily. There are many articles written about the use of technology in geriatric nursing that would be of interest to nurses and their patients.

Technology for Nurses

Advances in technology have made it possible for geriatric nurses to incorporate many techniques into the daily care they provide. There are devices that measure gait, which prevent or minimize falls. Nurses can use technology to talk to supervising staff, patient’s family members, and physicians, along with communicating with patients while they are off-site. Devices are available to transmit vital statistics to the medical facility, receive new orders, or doctors can change prescriptions. Several new technologies allow patients to take an active role in their home acute care. Devices are also available to make dispensing of medication much easier. Patients can also use various devices on their own such as a blood pressure monitor.

Time

Nursing is not meant to be impersonal and cold. Working in the home of a patient gives the nurse an opportunity to get to know the patient and their family. There is more to geriatric nursing than a simple visit to check on the status of the patient’s medical condition and to administer medication. By spending time with the patient, talking about various elements of the day will give the nurse a better idea of the type of care this person needs. Since seniors often feel as if they have become dependent on others, spending time simply talking to the patient can make the situation better for them.

Continue Learning

Never stop learning. Nurses should be engaged in continuing education in all areas of the profession. For geriatric nurses, there are courses available in which they can learn new technologies and different ways of managing patient care, as well as ways to deal with mood disorders that are common with elderly people. Advances are constantly being made in medicine, and it is beneficial for a geriatric nurse to stay current. The American Geriatric Society regularly publishes articles on geriatric care and nurses can learn about any changes in the standards of care for the elderly.

Staying at home does give seniors an element of independence. While it could be challenging, providing that independence to a senior will make the obstacle worthwhile. Enhancing home care to utilizing common sense approaches will make the job a little easier.

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