Only one group of Americans has more than doubled in size over the past twenty years: the elderly. They’ve experienced more than most in their lifetimes, from world wars to the first man on the moon. Thanks to lengthening life spans, they have much more to experience; over 41.4 million Americans are 65 and older – that’s more than 13.3 percent of the total U.S. population.1
As this golden group ages, how can we serve and love the elders that hold such a special place in our communities and families?
The role of geriatric social workers includes:
Helping senior citizens cope with common problems experienced by the elderly
Ensuring the needs of their clients are met from day-to-day
Providing aid with financial issues, medical care, mental disorders and social problems
Geriatric care manager
Care managers help the elderly and their loved ones develop a long-term care plan and connect with necessary services.
Healthcare business manager
These managers make sure healthcare facilities provide the most effective patient care. This includes planning and coordinating services in hospitals and clinics.
Art therapy uses the visual and auditory arts to help restore function and general wellbeing. Benefits can include:
Increased cognitive skills
Improved motor skills
78 percent of art therapists report working with older adults on a regular basis.2
Grief counselors help seniors process bereavement and loss, as well as cope with thoughts of their own death.
Assisted living administrator
Administrators manage assisted living facilities or services, which provide care to adults who need help with daily tasks like bathing, eating and dressing.
These educators provide the elderly with lessons that inform them about health concerns.
Physical therapists help aging adults strengthen their muscles, increase mobility and improve endurance. They also help with recovery from an injury or illness.
HELPING AND HEALING
The elderly are likely to face hardships, but with our help, they don’t have to go through them alone.
Bereavement and loss
A natural part of the aging process is experiencing the loss of loved ones as well as coping with one’s own progressing age. Seniors often experience bereavement and loss differently than younger adults, which puts them at risk for depression, anxiety and PTSD. Grieving seniors can benefit from the support others as they work through difficult times.
75 percent of adults 50 and older reported finding humor and laughter in their daily lives.3
Family caregivers play a crucial role in keeping the elderly comfortable at home by providing support like:
Loving relationships and companionship
Minimal health and wellness assistance
Support with day-to-day needs
More than 10 percent of the U.S. population have served as unpaid caregivers for older adults.4
Health promotion and self-care
Age can prevent seniors from properly taking care of their bodies, but we can help our loved ones stay beautiful and healthy. Helping the elderly groom themselves, receive regular medical attention and stay active can go a long way in promoting general wellbeing.
In more extreme cases, seniors may experience disabilities or other chronic health conditions. You can support older adults by ensuring they can access the healthcare professionals and resources they need. This might involve assistance with transportation and attending to business, legal and medical concerns.
75 percent of seniors have at least one chronic health condition, and most have two or more.5
End-of-life and palliative care
As our loved ones enter their final days, specialized care can help provide relief from the symptoms and stress. End-of-life and palliative care makes their last days as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
Quality of long-term care
Fortunately, there are a number of geriatric professionals trained to provide excellent care for aging adults in all of these areas. A growing population of the elderly means the demand for these practitioners is greater than ever – and there are more opportunities for you to bring wellness and care into the lives of the elderly than ever.
Our Nurse of the Week is Meg Busing, a nurse, mother, and former camp counselor who founded Camp YouCan, a summer camp in Nebraska for kids with epilepsy. She was inspired to found the camp after going through her own health struggles and after serving as a counselor at a camp for families of kids with cancer before she started nursing school.
After a car accident in 1998 left Busing with a traumatic brain injury that left her struggling with seizures for over a decade, she eventually underwent a successful brain surgery, which has left her seizure free since. Meg started the camp along with her husband Kael Busing, as well as their own nonprofit, the Midwest YouCan Foundation.
Busing tells Omaha.com, “We named it Camp YouCan because kids are always reminded of the things they can’t do. We just want them to see all that they can do and meet other kids with epilepsy.”
Camp YouCan provides a sense of community and a chance to talk with other kids going through the same thing. The camp offers a number of activities including ziplining, tightrope walking, rockwall climbing, archery, and a water slide. By the end of the week, campers leave with new confidence in their abilities, lifelong friendships, and excitement to come back and do it again the next year.
Before opening Camp YouCan, Meg overcame her illness and injuries and became a registered nurse and mother of three. Now she’s sharing with others how to advocate for themselves, build a community of support, and find things they CAN do. To learn more about registered nurse Meg Busing and how she founded her nonprofit and a summer camp for kids with epilepsy, visit here.
Midland University and Methodist Fremont Health opened a new $1 million simulation lab earlier this summer, providing simulated learning to medical students. The lab, constructed inside of Methodist Fremont Health Center, is used both by medical professionals and Midland University students.
The Gaumard Manikins use “Care in Motion” simulation technology, which allows students to treat the Manikins like actual patients in different environments. In addition to the manikins, students are able to practice on the same equipment that Fremont Health medical professionals use every day.
The grant will help Dr. Meier and other UNMC nurse practitioners get trained on performing geriatric assessments and psychiatric evaluations on patients in their own homes, in order to help access to care and help the nurse practitioners better see and understand their patients’ living situations, backgrounds, and other important details.
This grant from WIN is a huge boost for the program, which will also provide caregiver assessments, dementia education, and mobile services. This comes in addition to a four year, $2.6 million grant gifted in July to the UNMC College of Nursing by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, aimed at improving engagement of registered nurses in patient management.