Hats off to our geriatric nurses

Our Australian population is aging.  According to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (2017), the number of people aged 65 and over has more than tripled over the last fifty years, and it has been estimated that by 2064, there will be 9.6 million people aged 65 and over and 1.9 million people aged 85.  By 2050, nearly one million Australians will be living with dementia.  Therefore, it is essential our nursing workforce has the skills and resources to care for this population.

Caring for a person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, in my opinion, has to be one of the most difficult types of nursing.  In an acute care setting, away from their homes and normal environments, setbacks or episodes of delirium can occur.  Agitation, distress and even aggression is not uncommon.  These episodes are not only distressing to the patient and their family, but also to the nurses charged with their care.  Yet, resources for these patients can be scarce, especially in non-geriatric wards.

Geriatric nursing can be viewed as a less ‘glamorous’ specialty, but is one of the most complex and demanding. Despite this, the nurses who do specialise in this area show incredible compassion and dedication.  Their ability to connect with their patients and guide them through their treatment and recovery is nothing short of amazing.  Their creativity and resourcefulness should be applauded, and their delivery of person centred care used as an example for other specialties.

Ref:- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017). Ageing  Retrieved 1st May, 2017, from http://www.aihw.gov.au/ageing/

**Laurie is a regular columnist for the Australian College of Nursing “The Hive” Magazine offering her perspective as an early career nurse. This column was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue ***

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