According to U.S. News & World Report, Nevada was one of the top 10 states with the largest population increase of residents aged 65 years and older between 2014 and 2018. This is not surprising given the aging Baby Boomer generation and the Population Reference Bureau’s prediction that this group will almost double in size “from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060.”
For nurses, this means plenty of geriatric care nursing opportunities to consider now and in the foreseeable future. However, most of these placements require nurses to have BSN preparation due to the complex physical and mental health challenges many older adults face.
For nurses who are not yet BSN-prepared, the opportunity to complete an RN to BSN online program with specialized courses like Care of Aging Populations equips nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to work with elderly adults who may have complex healthcare needs.
Once completed, BSN preparation enables nurses to work in a variety of geriatric care roles in assisted living, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), and skilled nursing facilities. Some of the geriatric care nursing positions for BSN-prepared nurses include:
Geriatric nurses work in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities with elderly adults who sometimes have multiple health conditions such as lung and heart problems, memory problems such as dementia, and chronic illnesses. Through holistic, wellness-focused courses like Care of Aging Populations, nurses learn how aging is a very individualized process. They also familiarize themselves with some of the most common health conditions that affect older adults.
One of the key roles of a nurse advocate is to educate aging adults and their families about diagnoses, care options, and their rights as a patient in the healthcare system. Nurse advocates also help patients and their families navigate the healthcare system and access the services they need. Nurse advocates serve as a “voice” for older adults and make their wishes, choices, concerns, and grievances known to physicians, other healthcare providers, and facility administrators.
Case managers are responsible for ensuring the best use of healthcare resources and helping patients receive the care they need. They review patients’ healthcare information and lead case conferences with healthcare team and family members to identify priorities and plan patient care.
Case managers work in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, home care, and long-term care. They work with social workers, physicians, and other stakeholders involved in a patient’s care to facilitate easier movement for a patient through the healthcare system. Case managers also need to have extensive knowledge of private and public healthcare insurance to assist the patient in paying for care.
Pain Management Nurse
Older adults may live with chronic pain due to conditions such as arthritis, chronic headaches, diabetic neuropathy, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, and previous injuries. A pain management nurse is an expert in assessing the sources of a patient’s pain and recommending an appropriate method for helping alleviate the discomfort. These nurses also administer various pain medications, including narcotics, and teach patients about narcotic addiction and other non-medicinal ways to manage pain such as TENS therapy, biofeedback, and acupuncture.
Cancer is another health condition affecting many older people. Oncology nurses work with patients who have cancer, administer chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, and assess for side effects from these treatments. These nurses most commonly work in hospitals, but they may also work in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities.
Not all older adults have chronic health conditions to manage. Some elderly people live healthy, vibrant, and busy lives. Those with mild chronic health conditions may want to focus on wellness as well. However, the aging process predisposes this group to certain risks such as falls, hip fractures, osteoporosis, and poor nutrition. Wellness nurses work to identify health risks for the elderly and help older adults remain as normal and active as possible.
Geriatric care nursing opportunities exist across the continuum of care for the elderly. With the ever-increasing population of older adults and their related health needs, nurses with BSN preparation have a variety of challenging and fulfilling roles to choose from in geriatric care.
Learn about Nevada State College’s RN to BSN online program.