Blogging Geriatrics

Good nursing care can help the elderly stay active long past retirement age.

By Christine Contillo, RN, BSN
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While you may not have left nursing school thinking that geriatrics would be your specialty, statistics show that it’s one that is becoming increasingly important. Seniors are not only older adults, they have their own set of problems, including loss of muscle and bone mass and an assortment of chronic ailments. However, seniors should not be defined by their problems. Good nursing care can help the elderly stay active long past retirement age. Many caregivers focus only on their cognitive problems and fail to help their senior patients overcome their very real physical and medical challenges.

The National Gerontological Nursing Association offers a variety of services to members, including an annual convention, awards, scholarships, and a Listserv. Also available are innovation to clinical practice fact sheets that address issues such as adult depression, chronic pain, falls and medication, and osteoporosis. Their website is Since not all geriatric patients are in nursing homes, the information should be useful to nurses working with older adults in multiple settings.

A similar resource for the care of older adults is This site was developed five years ago through the ANA’s Nurse Competence in Aging initiative and offers evidence-based content for improving nursing care for older adults.

The Gilbert Guide claims to provide the most comprehensive information on long-term care facilities in the United States. Senior citizens face multiple housing issues – how to stay in their homes or “age in place” and how to obtain personal care when it becomes necessary. Assisted living is costly and beyond the reach of many. What are the alternatives for those who find they cannot perform all the activities of daily life? Families want to know how and when to access help, and who determines when skilled care is necessary. Too often the need to know occurs in a crisis setting. The Gilbert Guide grew out of one family’s goal for a healthcare foundation and includes information on assisted living, skilled nursing, geriatric care management, home care, and hospice with listings for Los Angeles and the San Francisco areas. Their website is

This year the Orlando Sentinel carried a lovely short piece about geriatric residency programs that offers two important pieces of advice that we can all promote: “try not to fall and stay active.”

Christine Contillo RN, BSN, has worked as a nurse since 1979, and has written extensively for various nursing publications as well as the New York Times.

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