What is a Geriatric Nurse?

Even the bodies of elderly people who make a spirited effort to remain healthy can begin to grow a bit wearier and less resilient to illness. Geriatric nurses specialize in providing targeted care for the preservation and potential improvement in health in aging patients, according to Discover Nursing.

Scope of Practice

In addition to connecting with patients through scheduled inpatient and outpatient appointments, geriatric nurses will commonly provide care for elderly patients on a daily, ongoing basis. The health complications of aging won’t necessarily always develop into life-threatening conditions, but at the same time, they oftentimes simply make it more challenging for aging patienrs to carry out the necessary tasks for daily self-maintenance.

With their knowledge of the various ways that aging patients might be uniquely limited by their body and mind’s developmental state, geriatric nurses can develop corrective measures to help the patient maintain a functional state of life and at least a marginal degree of autonomy.

Caring for Elderly Patients with High-Risk Conditions

Geriatric nurses must be well-versed in the developmental paths of heavily age-correlated diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Patients whose challenges with the natural aging process are conflated with the emergence of a chronic disease are at a heightened risk of mortality from things that would be relatively benign for a young individual with no health complications.

Geriatric nurses will not only be trained in the proper methods of providing both treatment and preventative care for age-related diseases, but also in the proper ways to help patients cope with the emotional duress that can result from a sense of helplessness.

Common Specific Duties

While geriatric nurses are placed in a diverse array of different professional settings and facilities, most of them share a common set of core responsibilities to carry out their roles as geriatric care practitioners.

Geriatric nurses regularly conduct periodic check-ups and in-depth examinations to assess the health of their elderly patients over time. Because many elderly patients are at risk of falling ill at a swifter rate than younger individuals with immune systems in peak form, geriatric nurses must pay close and frequent attention to detect any subtle warning signs of early stage illness that could rapidly worsen if not addressed proactively.

Based on the information that geriatric nurses gain from the frequent examinations, they can create highly personalized plans for elderly patient care. Beyond the routine tasks of conducting check-ups and collecting data from examinations of the patient’s ongoing condition, geriatric nurses will also provide any necessary assistance in maintaining basic hygiene.

Rehabilitation, Pain Management and Medicinal Administration

If their patient suffers from a functionally-impairing injury, geriatric nurses will have a central role in assisting the patient in their path to rehabilitation. The geriatic nurse can also provide assistance with chronic or acute pain management treatment that the patient may be undergoing.

As some of the functional consequences of aging and age-related diseases might impair a patient’s ability to medicate themselves, the patient’s prescription medication may be regularly administered by the geriatric nurse themselves if necessary.

Related Resource: 5 Reasons to Get Your RN to BSN

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that registered nurses (RNs) such as geriatric nurses will see a fairly rapid job growth rate of approximately 16 percent by the year 2024. The BLS counted approximately 2,751,000 RNs in 2014, and the average income is just under $67,500 a year.