Transforming Perspective on Older Adults: Conceptualizing the "Silver Tsunami" as a Cultural Paradigm Shift

Monday, 9 November 2015: 3:15 PM

Katheryn Fernandez, PhD, RN
Catherine Maurer Baack, MS, RN, BC, CNS
Mt. Carmel College of Nursing, Columbus, OH, USA

Teaching a free standing geronotology course to senior nursing students requires unique and innovative ways to engage the

students.  From the literature and from life, this challenge requires a hard look at the ‘culture’ surrounding older adults; not only

in society, but also in healthcare.  Most importantly it requires a hard look at the classroom…at the students and faculty.  Culture

change, is a challenge and an opportunity. In this senior level course, there is a perfect opportunity to help the students, who are

so immersed in acute care, lab values and crisis intervention to come ‘full circle’ in their nursing education and ‘put it all

together.’  Older adults are the perfect population to do this with as they are, by definition, experiencing normal changes of aging

and multiple co-morbid conditions that can be affected, but not cured. Challenges include “putting a face” on older adults so that

they are not seen as a homogenous population. The faculty need to be agents of change and do what all agents of change

do…shake things up!  Faculty need to speak a new language and do new things that entice students to leave their comfort zones

of predictable lectures, paperwork and clinical experiences in acute care facilities. The didactic information has to demonstrate

to the students how to take what they know and apply it to this very special population. New concepts such as atypical

presentation and geriatric syndromes must replace traditional applications of medical information.  Subtle ageist beliefs need to

be challenged and clinical sites must be a reflection where older adults live in communities.