Geriatric Nurses Soon to Be in Great Demand

If you are looking to specialize in an area of nursing that you will not have a problem finding a job in, you should probably look into geriatrics. This particular area of medicine focuses on the care of adults who are aged 65 and older. The demand for nurses in this field is only going to continue to grow as the Baby Boomer generation begins to reach retirement age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2006, the oldest of the Baby Boomers, the largest generation in history, began to turn 60 years old. This means that more and more people will begin to seek treatment from geriatricians, who will need the assistance of nurses specializing in geriatrics.

Geriatric nurses assist doctors with medical problems commonly experienced by the elderly, such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, genitourinary issues, pressure injuries, diabetes, and stroke. They assess the mental and physical skills of their patients, educate them about health issues related to aging, inform them about disease prevention, and recommend medication adjustments. Along with basic nursing services, it is a geriatric nurse’s responsibility to provide their patients with emotional support and help them cope with the mental and physical changes older adults tend to experience. They must not only communicate with patients, but their families who are typically responsible for their care. Geriatric nurses should be able to handle emotionally stressful situations, be extremely attentive to their patients, and watch closely for any medical conditions that can quickly become serious.

Geriatric nurses work in institutional settings like hospitals, retirement homes, and residential care facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses in nursing care facilities is expected to increase by 25 percent. They also have the option to work in home nursing, as live-in providers, visiting nurses, or a part of a team of caregivers. With more and more of the elderly population preferring to receive health care in their homes, the employment of nurses in home health care services is expected to grow by 33 percent. Also contributing to the growth are advances in technology which are making it easier to perform complex treatments in the patients’ homes. Registered nurses who have practiced full time for at least two years can specialize in geriatrics by passing the national licensing exam. Other requirements include completing at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice, and 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing within the past three years.

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