Wellness is crucial for all ages but, more important, for aging adults trying to maintain their health and independence. The older population is increasing across the U.S. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of people aged 65 and above will surpass those younger than five. This explains the increasing need for healthcare workers, especially registered nurses, to address the conditions facing this population.
Over time, registered nurses have proven valuable in caring for the needs of older adults. Advancing their studies by enrolling in an online direct entry master’s in nursing helps nursing professionals acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to care for older adults with chronic health conditions.
Why is Wellness Crucial for Geriatric Patients?
Wellness is the biggest determiner of the quality of life of geriatric patients. Unfortunately, the likelihood of developing multiple chronic conditions increases with age. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 15% of individuals aged 55 to 64 have more than one chronic health condition. This percentage increases to 24% for individuals above 65 years.
While the study was conducted more than a decade ago, it reflects the general trend shown by recent studies. Most old-age chronic health issues make it challenging and impossible for patients to live independently and participate actively in their hobbies.
How Nurses Can Promote Wellness in Old Patients
Nurses can promote wellness and improve the quality of life in older patients through the following:
1. Conducting Health Assessments
Conducting thorough health assessments is the main role of nurses caring for elderly patients. While health assessments are important for patients of all ages, special considerations should be made when evaluating older patients. Apart from determining the patients’ cultural needs, health assessments for the elderly screen for cognitive functions, risk of falls, living conditions, and access to resources. Nurses can then accurately advocate for patients’ needs based on these findings or make referrals where necessary.
2. Dispelling Myths
People believe a lot of myths about the aging process, lifestyle recommendations, and treatments for the elderly. Nurses should help the general population by debunking and addressing popular myths using evidence-based studies. They should also educate older patients about the disease process and preventive measures.
3. Provide Holistic Care
Improving the quality of life of the elderly goes beyond physical health. Apart from physical health and administering medications, holistic care for elderly patients include:
- Providing nutritional guidance – Registered nurses should guide aging patients on the best nutritional foods for their age. While aging patients require few calories, they need the same amounts of vitamins and minerals. Through their assessments, nurses can make determinations whether the patient can cook independently or would benefit from joining meal delivery programs for proper nutrition.
- Encourage activity – All elderly patients should participate in physical activities to improve their overall wellness. Nurses encourage and help patients adopt sustainable activity regimens.
- Maintain a sleeping schedule – Sleep is vital for general health and wellness. Older adults with sleep inadequacies risk suffering from a heart attack, depression, and cardiac conditions. Nurses should discuss the benefits of developing a regular sleep schedule and observing sleep hygiene.
Nurses are certainly integral in providing care to older adults. Counseling aging patients and addressing specific barriers to healthy living helps patients improve their overall health and wellness. They also educate patients and caregivers on care routines and coping skills for various age-related health conditions.