Gerontology nursing, which is also referred to as geriatric nursing, specializes in offering care to older adults. The primary function of a gerontology nurse is to collaborate with patients, the local community and families in order to deliver the highest possible quality of life to the elderly. This field requires a specific set of professional and personal characteristics because the patients often have unique needs based on their age. According to Salary.com, individuals who are good fit for geriatric nursing can make a major difference in the lives of others while earning an average salary of $63,790!
Top Five Characteristics for Gerontology Nurses
Individuals of all types need their nurse to have a lot of patience, but geriatric patients can be especially difficult for those who quickly become irritated. A nurse who chooses to work in gerontology should have the ability to carefully listen to patients who may speak slowly and exhibit high levels of confusion. Patience will also be necessary when dealing with family members who may be having a hard time with the idea of their loved one needing full-time care.
The sad fact is that the majority of geriatric patients are near the end of the life when they need assistance from a nurse. They may not yet be hospice bound, but medical issues tend to begin piling up for people during the last few years of their life. It is essential for a gerontology nurse to be just as compassionate as they are patient. The people in your care may be incontinent or unable to bathe themselves, but this does not mean that their sense of personal pride, embarrassment and desire for autonomy has disappeared. Taking a compassionate approach is the best way to help them, even if they are surly toward you on a daily basis.
Strong Attention to Detail
One of the main hallmarks of gerontology nursing is preventative care, according to Discover Nursing. Your patients will be at a much higher risk than younger people of developing serious medical conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. Therefore, it is vital to be tuned into each patient’s medical chart and list of complaints so that you can help them avoid or deal with any of these potential issues. You will need to be able to quickly but thoroughly assess someone’s medical history and create a preventative program that suits their needs.
Individuals who have dementia can be very challenging, but they also present nurses with the opportunity to be creative. In fact, it will be necessary to harness your creativity for many geriatric patients as their treatment plan is likely to include a diverse list of variables. For example, some dementia patients respond well to art therapy, so you may end up coloring or painting with them. Being able to creatively think through each person’s physical and emotional needs in order to implement a successful treatment plan is the key to being a good gerontology nurse.
Many elderly patients get confused easily, so you have to take an unambiguous approach to working with them. It will be detrimental to give them contradictory messages about anything unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Remaining consistent will help your patients feel more comfortable and secure, which in turn makes it easier for them to fight against medical issues. Even if a patient’s health is deteriorating quickly, being consistently positive can keep their spirits up.
Related Resource: Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Nursing (MSN)-Gerontology Degree Programs
Gerontology is a rapidly growing field, because the average life expectancy of adults continues to increase. By becoming a geriatric nurse, you can provide care for older adults in need and become a major source of comfort to their families. This is definitely an important role, and individuals who are compassionate, patient, consistent, creative and have a strong attention to detail can thrive in gerontology.