Meaning of Aging
According to Lange (2012), aging refers to a process of getting old as a result of cell degeneration due to the passage of time. Human cells undergo a process of degeneration once on reach the maturity stage. As the cells continue to degenerate, a person gets older with time. Leifer and Fleck (2013) on the other hand define aging as a biological state where cells within the body degenerate at a higher rate than new ones are created. This results in net negative growth. It is a natural process that cannot be avoided, although current advancements in medical technology have made it possible to slow the process.
Gerontological Nursing and How it Applies to Community Nursing
Lange defines gerontological nursing as “The specialty of nursing pertaining to older adults” (2012, p. 67). It involves caring for the elderly population to help them lead quality lifestyles. The United States, and many other developed nations across the world, has developed community-based structures to help the elderly cope with life at these delicate stages of their lives. As people get old, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to cope with certain aspects of life. A woman aged over 100 years cannot take care of herself. She needs people around her to help her in addressing many tasks such as washing her clothes, grooming herself, going for a walk, preparing meals, and many other household chores. Such elder persons may not afford to stay on their own because they need others’ support to survive. Gerontological nursing involves the collaboration between nurses, elderly persons, their relatives and friends in offering quality care for the aging population.
The nurses are trained to offer care to the elderly. They not only understand what it takes to care for these people but also how to bring others on board to help in improving their quality of life. They train family members and friends on how they can handle the elderly and what they should do to make them comfortable. Leifer and Fleck (2013) also emphasize the role of these nurses in making the family members understand the emotional problems of the elderly. As one gets older, sometimes their mental capacity starts to degenerate. They need the support of their family members to lead quality lives. Community nursing offers these elderly persons an opportunity to lead normal lives despite their limited physical health. Gerontological nursing is one aspect of community nursing that specifically focuses on the aging population. As Dixey (2012) says, community nursing is very broad as it targets all members of the community irrespective of their age, race, religion, or any other demographical factors. However, gerontological nursing specifically concentrates on how to care for old people physically, socially, economically, and emotionally.
Aging Statistics Based On 2010 National Census and Target Goals Based On Healthy People 2020
According to the 2010 national census, the number of the aging population has been on the rise over the years since 1900. The table below shows the statistics about the number of elderly persons in the United States since 1900.
Table 1: The Population of the Elderly from 1900-2010
As shown in the figure above, the number of older people in the United States has been on a consistent rise over the years since 1900. As shown in the table above, the United States is home to about 42 million elderly persons (people over 65 years). The number constitutes about 12.5 percent of the total population of the country. The consistent rise in the number of the elderly is in line with the targeted goals of Healthy People 2020 which emphasizes offering quality care for all Americans. Americans now live longer than was the case in the past because of improved living standards and quality health care.
Main Community Issues Affecting the Elderly Population and How to Target Them from Community Nursing Perspective
Elderly persons in the United States are affected by a number of community issues that may affect their quality of life if left unaddressed. One of the major issues affecting them is the lack of care from their family members. Some of them live in solitude after being abandoned by their close relatives. When this happens, they not only suffer from emotional problems of being left alone but also physical and economic problems. They have to earn a living and support themselves in order to survive. Another common problem that elderly persons face is the inability of their family members and friends to understand their delicate mental positions. Sometimes elderly persons may behave abnormally because of their deteriorating mental capacity. What they need from family members is an understanding of their condition, care and respect. Community nursing offers solutions to these problems. To those who are abandoned, community nursing creates a new family for them, especially in homes for the elderly. They get to address their physical, emotional and social needs. The nurses also get to train family members on how to care for their aging relatives.
Dixey, R. (2012). Health promotion: Global principles and practice. Wallingford: CABI.
Edelman, C., Mandle, C. L., & Kudzma, E. C. (2014). Health promotion throughout the life span. New York: Elsevier
Lange, J. W. (2012). The nurse’s role in promoting optimal health of older adults: Thriving in the wisdom years. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Co.
Leifer, G., & Fleck, E. (2013). Growth and development across the lifespan: A health promotion focus. St. Louis: Elsevier.