An Aging Population: Who Will Care for the Elderly?

Monday, 30 October 2017: 9:30 AM

Susan Cairone, MSN
University of Mary, University of Mary, Bismarck, ND, USA

With each passing day until the year 2030 approximately 10,000 Americans will reach age 65. It is critical that nurses are skilled in geriatric content and able to recognize illnesses in older adults which are often complicated by multiple medical problems and the physical changes of aging. The increase in Alzheimer’s disease and chronic illnesses will change the focus of nursing away from acute care management toward a more comfort care approach, which is quite different than what students have previously learned regarding chronic diseases (McIntosh, 2007). There will be an increased need to consider patient understanding with regard to various cognitive and literacy levels. Elderly patients are not just older adults, they have needs that are age specific and require competent Based on these facts, there is urgency for nursing students to be prepared with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to manage the complex needs of the geriatric population (University Alliance (2014). Baccalaureate nursing programs nationwide that were accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) were evaluated on the amount of geriatric content of their curriculum and the findings compared with the recommendations of AACN (2010) and HIGN (2010) Baccalaureate Competencies and Curricula Guidelines for the Nursing Care of Older Adult. A quantitative study was conducted using a random sample of 50% of CCNE accredited BSN programs in the United States. A self-administered questionnaire was sent via email to 364 nursing program leaders resulting in a 24.5% response rate. The findings were compared to previous studies including the landmark study by Rosenfeld et al. (1999). The results showed that nursing programs nationwide offer even fewer stand-alone courses than previously reported by Rosenfeld, et al. The study also noted fewer faculty were certified in ANA/ANCC Gerontological Nursing as well as fewer schools or universities who offer centers or institutes on aging within their organizations. Based on study findings, oversaturation of curricula content continues to be a major inhibiting factor to the inclusion of geriatric/gerontological content in nursing curricula. The results of this study demonstrated a continued need for increase geriatric/gerontological content in baccalaureate nursing programs through innovative ways while addressing the oversaturation of curricula content. Academic programs, professional leaders, and faculty will be instrumental in improving geriatric education in baccalaureate nursing programs and influencing students to take an interest in caring for the elderly.