Geriatrics In Health Care and Nursing

Afza.Malik GDA

Nursing Care and Geriatric Nursing 

Geriatrics In Health Care and Nursing

What Meant By Geriatrics,What Is Geriatric Care In Nursing,Rejection of Term,Division of Gerontological Nursing,Nursing Text Book,Nursing Research and Geriatric Care.

What Meant By Geriatrics

    The term geriatrics evolved from the Greek word geras, "old age," and it refers to the branch of medicine that covers the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases and syndromes that occur primarily among older people. A board certified medical practitioner of geriatric medicine is called a geriatrician. 

    In the lay press the term has sometimes been overgeneralized to include comprehensive health care and preventive services for older adults, but this blurs the original meaning of the term. 

    In the specialty of nursing devoted to care of the aged, there has been considerable linguistic confusion and philosophical controversy about what to call the practice specialty. 

    Various attempts were made to clarify and specify terminology and make the terms fit the consensual philosophy and goals of practitioners within the specialty, but no term has been found that pleases everyone.

What Is Geriatric Care In Nursing

    A specialty referred to as geriatric nursing was first suggested in an anonymous 1925 editorial, "Care of the Aged," in the American Journal of Nursing, and the first nursing textbook on the topic was published in 1950. 

    However, the actual birth of the specialty occurred in 1962, when the American Nurses Association (ANA) formed the Conference Group on Geriatric Nursing Practice, in 1966 the ANA officially created the Division of Geriatric Nursing, and in 1976 the name was changed to the Division of Gerontological Nursing ( ANNA, 1982). 

    The ANA published the first set of Standards of Practice for Geriatric Nursing in 1970. The Journal of Gerontological Nursing began operation in 1975, and Geriatric Nursing: Care of the Aged was first published in 1979. The ANA division's name changes and the titles of these Two journals reflect the ongoing debate about proper terminology for the nursing specialty.

Rejection of Term

    Many people rejected the term geriatrics because it did not properly reflect nursing's interest in the entire continuum of health and disease, including health promotion, disease prevention, care of acute illness, and long-term care. Others rejected it as a medical term that did not convey inclusion of the art of nursing.

Division of Gerontological Nursing

    Although the ANA division's name changes to the Division of Gerontological Nursing pleased some nurses, others said it introduced a new error in terminology. The main criticism about this new label was that gerontology refers to the study of or science work about the aging processes and the biological, psychological, sociological, and economic experiences of normal aging ( Lueckenotte , 1996). 

    Using an "ology" term did not logically lend itself to the name of a clinical specialty in a practice field. This problem led some leaders in the field to lobby for the term gerontic nursing to identify the specialty. Gerontic nursing as defined by Gunter and Estes (1979) is more philosophically palatable than geriatric nursing and more linguistically correct than gerontological nursing. 

    Gerontic nursing was defined as a nursing specialty that includes the art and practice of nurturing, caring, and comforting older adults. Supporters of this term maintained that it included both the science and the art of nursing. Detractors argued that it left out health promotion and disease prevention.

Nursing Text Book

    A review of the titles of the most popular clinical textbooks in nursing today still shows considerable ambivalence. Nursing textbook titles include: geriatric nursing, gerontological nursing, clinical gerontological nursing, gerontologic nursing, gerontic nursing, and care of the aged; however, the latter three are less in evidence than a decade ago. 

    Interestingly, the National Institute on Aging at NIH (2004) acknowledged the single-term dilemma by naming its clinical research program the "Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Program" (GCG). The Geriatrics branch supports research on health issues of the aged, including disease and disability in older persons both specific conditions and multiple morbidities. 

    The Clinical Gerontology branch sponsors research on clinically related issues regarding aging and research on aging changes over the life span.

    An ideal term for the nursing specialty would cover the full range of knowledge needed and services to be provided in this practice field that has age of client as its sole parameter. The specialty is practiced at all levels of the health continuum, with persons who are aged 60+ to 115+, in any and all types of settings where older adults are to be found, and for periods of time that stretch from minutes to decades. 

    Finding a fitting replacement for the term geriatrics or geriatric nursing has already challenged some of the best minds in the profession for over 40 years. The search for a single ideal term is not likely to end soon.

Nursing Research and Geriatric Care

    Even without a clear title for the specialty, nurse researchers have made significant contributions to knowledge about older adults across the spectrum from health promotion through end-of-life care

    As genetic knowledge and stem cell research opens new views for inquiry, myriad unanswered questions about preventing and arresting the chronic illnesses and disabilities of old age will provide ample fodder for the fertile intellects of present and future nurse scientists for many years to come.


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