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Geriatric Patients Need Advocates for Care

Where does the time go? There’s a popular quote that states that the days pass slowly but the years pass quickly. The older I get, the more truth this statement holds. Over the past three years I’ve lost two grandparents and through watching their aging process and the medical care they needed, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for my parents. Although they are only in their mid-60’s, I know that in 10 to 15 years my sister and I are really going to have to plan for their care and well being. As a nurse in an LVN to RN school, geriatrics is a specialty that will continue to require more nurses to attend to the increasing senior population.

Now I know I wrote about gerontology in my last post, but sometimes I get stuck on a theme based on what I am currently going through in my personal life or what articles seem to keep popping up. Right now both issues are having me focusing on this topic. Fortunately my parents have made wise financial decisions for most of their lives, but like the majority of people in our nation their house has decreased in value by about 1/3 and so has their stocks. More importantly, I worry about their daily care and the quality of treatment they will get in the not so distant future.

Nurse.com published an article that got me thinking about the quality care that many seniors are getting in the medical world. Now I know that many nursing homes and medical staff are awesome and go the extra mile for their patients, but I also read a lot of articles that state negligence on the part of treating the elderly. Whether this be for a need of advocates on behalf of the patient or if the patient is too ill to speak up for himself, I’m not sure. I just know that there seems to be lack of caring or accountability on behalf of geriatric patients.

The major problem that the NurseZone.com article poses is that, “In a study that appeared this year in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, they found that discharge summaries regularly lacked necessary information on diet, activity level, therapy and pending laboratory tests of nursing home patients after departure from the hospital… Amy Kind, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics and lead author of the study, identified a number of problems with the summaries. They were often completed many days after the patient had already been discharged to the nursing home, some more than 30 days afterward… In addition, as the time grew longer, the quality of the information within the summaries became poorer or more incomplete. This problem forces nursing home caregivers to spend valuable time contacting the hospital to determine how to proceed with patient treatment.”

As a student getting RN training, geriatrics can be a fulfilling and rewarding specialty to pursue. Consider all of your options to see which best fits your personality and lifestyle.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit