Gerontological Nursing as a Specialty

Everyone grows old, there is no stopping it. Have you ever thought about what would happen if there was no one to take care of the elderly? It would not be a very good way of life if there was no one around to help you eat, to help you get around, or to even socialize with. It takes a certain set of skills, some caring nurses, and patience to care for the elderly. Therefore, Gerontological Nursing has become a specialty.

Gerontology is “a term used to define the study of aging and older adults. Gerontology is multidisciplinary and is a specialized area within such disciplines as nursing, psychology, and social work”. The gerontological specialty of nursing is the study of aging and well-being of the population, as well as being an advocate for the elderly at every level of prevention. Just because we are getting older, does not mean we are any less of a person, and we need to treat each other with the same respect and dignity as we would treat the younger generation.

Gerontology is classified as a nursing specialty because the older population tends to have higher comorbidities like dementia, heart conditions, hypertension, diabetes, as well as other psychiatric disorders. With these higher comorbidities, you would require a nurse who is specialized in most, if not all of these, to provide the proper care to their patients. An article from Science Direct confirms that “paramount to achieving high-quality care is a high-quality workforce, that is, having the right values, skills and knowledge to deliver and support fundamental and complex care, to innovate, to lead and inspire others, and to value the voice of older people”. If I had a family member in a Long Term Care Home, I would want to have someone with the appropriate skills, patience, and a great voice to advocate for their needs, and this is where the gerontological specialty comes into play.

Gerontology is a complex form of nursing also because of these comorbidities. Nurses require specialized training not only regarding the body and its functions but also on the effects of ageism. A lot of the population does not like that they are getting older even though it is just a part of life. Nurses need to understand how to help their patients/residents who have aging anxiety. Aging anxiety comes with a lot of fear of the unknown, like financial insecurity, appearance, general health, and many others. It is also “reinforced by negative stereotypes of older adults and the associated fear that these problems are likely to occur in one’s own later life”. When nurses can teach older adults about the myths of aging, they are then able to provide accurate information and ease their anxiety creating a much better atmosphere and nurse-patient relationship. Being able to teach older adults about aging also promotes better health outcomes. When they have a better understanding of aging, they will be able to create “comprehensive and creative plans of care that reflect the complexity of client needs” together. Other complexities in gerontology are working and communicating with the families, especially during End-of-Life Care. When working in gerontology, nurses are more likely to work in Long Term Care homes where you really get to know your residents. You end up building a rapport with not only the resident but the family as well. End-of-Life Care can be a touchy subject, no matter if they are in the hospital or a home, so nurses need to be aware of how to say certain things when to be there for the family, and most importantly, how to make the transition as peaceful as possible for the patient. Showing empathy “allows you to enter into a resident’s or family member’s world, to explore their feelings and meaning”. Nurses need to do all this while keeping themselves together in front of the patient and their families. I know, as a new nurse myself going into this setting, that it will take time to master, however, you also need to show some emotion as validation to the family that you cared for their loved one as a person and not just a patient. This is also where self-care comes into play. You need to take time to decompress and feel all the emotions of the situation. It is not healthy to hold everything in and can cause serious mental health issues down the line.

There are a lot of pros and cons for Gerontological Nursing. Some of the pros are you get to meet some very interesting people who have some amazing stories they are more than willing to share. If you are working in a care home, you get to develop a bond with your patients and even with their family members who visit. You will learn about a lot of different diseases as well as the medications that go along with them. With the pandemic that is going on today, you are also a constant in the patient’s life. If their family is unable to visit, this can take a toll on their mental health, however with you being their one constant, you can be a ray of sunshine for them. Some cons however are long hours, being short-staffed, doing the same routine day in and day out, as well as possibly losing some of your nursing skills like starting IVs and blood draws. A major con right now is the potential for contracting or spreading COVID-19 while working in a Long-Term Care home. One study shows that “long-term care (LTC) homes have become the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Canada, with residents of these care homes accounting for more than 80% of the country’s deaths”. That is a very high percentage. This is just hitting the surface of all the complexities of gerontology. Gerontology is a complex, yet very rewarding career.

Before starting nursing school, I didn’t know much about the Gerontological Nursing specialty. Growing up I always felt very nervous around older adults and I was never sure why. I always felt like they were very fragile and, quite frankly, miserable, but that is just from personal experiences. Now having gone through a semester and a half of nursing school, I understand why I had those perceptions, it was ageism. I had a lot of prejudgments because of how I was raised. We were always told to be careful around so and so, or just go and play because so and so is cranky today. We would also hear our parents speak about our grandparents and great-grandparents like they were a burden. Now I understand this is totally incorrect and is one of the main reasons I am contemplating going into Gerontological Nursing. There are a lot of older adults who get put in a home and are basically forgotten because their family members don’t know how to help them, or are unwilling to help. Recent studies have shown that “transitioning from independent living to a long-term care facility can be very difficult for older adults. More than two in five Canadian seniors living in LTC are diagnosed with or have symptoms of depression”. We as nurses need to step up and make sure they are not forgotten. We need to not only take care of them physically but mentally as well. This is why I believe that gerontological nursing is one of the most important specialties out there.

With all the skills needed for Gerontological Nursing, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will be taken care of with respect, dignity, and some of the best medical knowledge available. There is still a lot of research that could be done in this field, such as the lasting mental health effects of COVID-19 on the aging population. I personally am looking forward to learning more about dementia and how it affects older adults. I feel there is still a lot to learn about dementia. With Gerontological Nursing as a specialty, there will always be a nurse around to help you get out of bed, help you cope with a recent diagnosis or loss, or just to socialize with. We are trained to do this not because we must be, but because we want to be.

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now