The most important advances in geriatric care, say gerontological nurse researchers and practitioners, are not new technologies and procedures but changes in thinking about older patients. These changes are based on new evidence that for the first time includes large numbers of the elderly.  Though many older adults are active and in good health, most have at least one chronic condition and use healthcare services more often than other segments of the population. Although evidence shows elderly people benefit from caregivers who understand the needs of their age group, less than 1% of nurses have training in geriatric care, according to the Institute of Medicine’s 2008 report “Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce.”  “The biggest problem is the lack of providers who are prepared to care for this population,” says Tara A. Cortes, RN, PhD, FAAN, executive director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at the New York University College of Nursing. The Hartford Institute is working to ensure that all nurses have geriatric competence. It has developed assessment tools, core competencies, evidence-based protocols, advance practice curriculum, and programs such as NICHE (Nurses Improving Care to Healthsystem Elders).  “Nursing is positioned perfectly to be the driver of care for older adults,” Cortes says, noting that nurses already are experts at managing care, providing education, looking at patients holistically and working in interdisciplinary teams, all crucial components of geriatric care.

Source: (October 25, 2010)

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