There are all sorts of specialty fields students or young nurses may be interested in entering, and becoming a geriatric nurse is a wonderful way to apply your unique skill set and make a difference. Elder care requires specific knowledge and intangibles, and there are a number of facilities and settings where you may find yourself working.
Before taking the plunge into geriatrics, here are a few things to keep in mind:
There are a number of conditions you'll need to become familiar with.
As Discovering Nursing reported, older adults are susceptible to many different afflictions or diseases as they age. As a result, the best geriatric nurses are comfortable and familiar with conditions that relate to mobility, mental health and other serious issues.
"Seniors are at an elevated risk for injuries and disease."
Seniors are at an elevated risk for injuries and disease. This may include things like osteoporosis and other conditions that make staying physically active difficult, as well as ailments like heart disease or stroke.
Individuals living with Alzheimer's or certain cancers may require longitudinal care, and express symptoms or issues different as they age. For that reason, geriatric nurses need to be capable of noticing changing conditions and intervene accordingly. Likewise, many older adults may exhibit several issues, which means monitoring care plans and medication is especially critical.
It can be emotionally exhausting.
One thing to keep in mind before becoming a geriatric nurse is the mental fortitude it can require. You will be on the frontline of some of the most difficult diseases and conditions, and as you build a personal relationship with patients, seeing these ailments take hold can be emotionally taxing.
At the same time, working with older adults can be incredibly rewarding. Rasmussen College stated that becoming a geriatric nurse demands a thoughtful disposition and inviting touch. Whether working in a senior care center, at an individual's home or in a traditional practice or hospital, you may build very close and meaningful relationships with senior patients. This unfortunately can exacerbate negative feelings if conditions do take a turn for the worse.
Your patients demand respect.
Nurse Together found that some senior patients feel as if their doctors or nurses have difficulty communicating and building relationships. Unfortunatly, geriatric nurses may be condescending or uncomfortable around older individuals, or feel compelled to compensate by talking loudly or too much.
The same skills that make nurses successful elsewhere in medicine can be applied to treating seniors. For that reason, it's important to look after yourself to be the best caregiver possible. This means getting a good night sleep, eating square meals and staying healthy. At the same time, becoming too emotionally invested can lead to extra stress.
Nurse Together stated that treating older patients is a great experience for nurses because it can provide an opportunity to confront mortality in a context that feels more natural and understandable.
Seniors need a coach.
Above all else, the best thing you can do for older patients is to be a friendly ally and helpful coach. In this way you can help seniors feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Likewise, by providing educational resources and taking the time to explain a situation or treatment, you can relieve anxieties in your patients.
At the same time, the idea of being a coach is applicable for geriatric nurses. Your patients may need support in adhering to a care plan, and positive, constructive guidance is the best way to yield good results. This may help a patient take medication regularly or also be critical in ensuring a new diet or exercise regimen is successful.