New study finds graduating nurses ill-prepared to care for the elderly

August 17, 1999

A recent study conducted by the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and published in the Journal of Professional Nursing revealed a major concern to add to our already understaffed hospital crisis. The study found that the majority of nurses working in hospitals and nursing homes across the country have never been adequately trained to care for their elderly patients. Many of these nurses have never even taken a single course in geriatrics.

This is alarming news when you consider that today, a nurse's typical patient is an older adult. Although elderly people (65 years and older) represent only 12.8 percent of the American population, they account for more than 60 percent of ambulatory adult primary care visits, 80 percent of home care visits, 48 percent of hospital patients, and 85 percent of residents in nursing homes. Thus, an ever-decreasing staff of nurses are caring for the fastest growing segment of the population-- the elderly - without being properly trained to do so.

According to Dr. Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN, co-author of the study, a nationally-renowned authority on issues of the elderly and elder care, and director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University, only one in four baccalaureate nursing schools even require a course in the care of the elderly.

"We must raise the nation's awareness of nurses' critical role in the care of the elderly," said Dr. Mezey. "We should consider this study a wake-up call for introducing more geriatric education into nursing programs."

It is critical that nurses be prepared to deal with the unique health-care needs facing the elderly, such as: functional and mental status assessment of the elderly, prevention and assessment of falls, the use of physical restraints, the management of urinary incontinence in elderly patients and the treatment of pressure ulcers.

"The problem begins with the fact that only one in three nursing schools have faculty prepared to teach gerontological curriculum," says Dr. Mezey. The study asked baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States about their gerontological curriculum and found that the majority have no full or part-time faculty members certified in gerontology.

Study participants were asked to explain why this situation exists and the number one answer was "Curriculum already overloaded." Given the demographic trends in health care today, the present "overloaded" nursing curriculum won't be able to fulfill our future health needs.

"State-mandated curriculum in gerontological care is an option," said Dr. Mezey. "We need to focus on preparing nurses to provide what the elderly in our society deserve: optimal and humane care."
The John A Hartford Institute Foundation for Geriatric Nursing at New York University - The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU seeks to shape the quality of the health care that elderly Americans receive by promoting the highest level of competency in the nurses who deliver that care. By raising the standards of nursing care, the Hartford Institute aims to ensure that people age in comfort and with dignity.

The Hartford Website can be visited at . The email address is:

New York University Division of Nursing

Related Urinary Incontinence Articles from Brightsurf:

Higher risk of future fecal incontinence after sphincter injuries
The risk of subsequent fecal incontinence and intestinal gas leakage is significantly higher among women who, during childbirth, have suffered a sphincter injury and consequent damage to the anal sphincter muscle, was shown in a new study from the University of Gothenburg.

Kegels: Underused by women to treat and prevent urinary incontinence
Kegels are underused to treat and prevent urinary incontinence, especially during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Magnetic stimulation dramatically improves fecal incontinence
Painless magnetic stimulation of nerves that regulate muscles in the anus and rectum appears to improve their function and dramatically reduce episodes of fecal incontinence, a debilitating problem affecting about 10% of the population, investigators report.

New research takes p*** out of incontinence
Millions of people might eventually be spared the embarrassment and extreme isolation caused by wetting themselves, thanks to new research.

Does adding therapy before, after surgery for urinary incontinence help?
Adding behavioral and physical therapy before and after surgery for women with stress and urgency urinary incontinence resulted in a small improvement in symptoms compared to women who just had surgery but that difference in symptoms may not be clinically important.

Study shows advantages for stress urinary incontinence surgery
One of the most commonly performed surgeries to treat stress urinary incontinence in women may have better long-term results than another common surgical technique, according to a study led by Mayo Clinic researchers.

Childbirth delivery methods and risk of incontinence, overactive bladder
Pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (when one or more of theĀ pelvic organsĀ drop from their normal position) are associated with childbirth and affect millions of women in the United States.

Getting relief from sexual dysfunction and incontinence caused by menopause
Microablative fractional CO2 lasers are energy-based devices designed to help manage troublesome menopause symptoms such as painful sex, dryness, itching/burning, urinary frequency, and incontinence.

Overweight and obesity linked to higher risk of urinary incontinence for women
Being overweight or obese is linked with an increased risk of developing urinary incontinence for young to mid-aged women, according to an Obesity Reviews analysis of all relevant published studies.

WPSI says screen all women annually for urinary incontinence
All women should be screened annually for urinary incontinence, according to new guidelines from the Women's Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI).

Read More: Urinary Incontinence News and Urinary Incontinence Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to