Elder Abuse and Geriatric Care

The aging process entails the impairment of the patients’ cognitive and physical abilities. Some of those characteristics often lead to elder abuse since the junior individuals struggle to understand and empathize with the senior people’s experience of physical and psychological difficulties. Healthcare professionals, including nurses, should consider those characteristics in providing aged care. Namely, nurses should evaluate the relationship with the patient’s family and friends, the vulnerability of older patients to psychological pain, and the patient’s impeded cognitive and communication abilities.

The aging process inevitably leads to specific characteristics that have a significant adverse effect on elder individuals’ daily experiences. Essential elements of the aging process include poor mental and physical health, damaged brain functioning, and cognitive skills (Sivertsen et al., 2015 as cited in Wang et al., 2018). These impairments posit older adults a powerless, vulnerable, and dependent on external care (Momtaz et al. 2013 as cited in Wang et al., 2018). Such vulnerability and dependency are often deliberately or unintentionally exploited by other people to abuse senior individuals. Thus, aging individuals frequently experience elder abuse due to the impaired physical and mental conditions.

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Nurses should consider several factors while providing geriatric care to ensure the best patient experience. First, nurses should build systematic relationships with patients’ families and friends. As mentioned above, unlike middle-aged adults, elder people often rely on external support and help. Secondly, since geriatric patients are more vulnerable to psychological damage and trust issues than younger adults, nurses should be very careful in addressing the elder. Namely, healthcare professionals should consider patients’ preferences, build friendly relationships, and demonstrate empathy (National Institute on Aging [NIA], 2017). Finally, considering older patients’ poor cognitive and communication abilities, nurses should compensate for patients’ visual and hearing deficits by talking slowly, clearly, and avoid using medical jargon (NIA, 2017). Thus, while performing an assessment on a geriatric patient, nurses should be mindful of access to patient’s external support, their vulnerable emotional conditions and impaired cognitive capacities.

To conclude, nurses should be aware that the aging process presents numerous difficulties for older adults that the younger population rarely understands and empathize with, which frequently results in elder abuse. Specifically, nurses should account for the elder patient’s weakened cognitive abilities, such as memory loss, along with the volatile emotional state. Providing geriatric care by considering these impairments is likely to result in a significantly better patient experience and health outcome.

References

National Institute on Aging. (2017). Tips for improving communication with older patients. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wang, F., Meng, L. I.-R., Zhang, Q., Li, L., Nogueira, B. O. C., Ng, C. H., Ungvari, G. S., Hou, C.-L., Liu, L., Zhao, W., Jia, F.-J., & Xiang, Y.-T. (2018). Elder abuse and its impact on quality of life in nursing homes in China. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 78, 155–159. Web.

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