What is Gerontological Nursing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
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Gerontological nursing is a nursing specialty which revolves around the care of older adults. You may also hear it referred to as “geriatric nursing,” depending on regional preferences. Specialists in this type of nursing typically attend nursing school to qualify as nurses, and take additional courses to qualify as gerontological nurses. Some may choose to specialize in specific types of nursing in this field, such as nursing for people with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia, or home nursing for the elderly.

This aspect of the nursing field covers a wide variety of settings. A gerontological nurse may provide home care, as a live-in or visiting nurse, or the nurse may choose to work in a nursing facility such as a hospital, residential facility, or retirement home. These nurses can work as administrators, supervising other nurses and establishing policies which benefit their patients, or as hands-on nurses who actually interact directly with the elderly.

In gerontological nursing, nurses do not just provide direct physical care to the elderly in the form of changing dressings, administering medications, and handling other routine aspects of care. They also assist their patients with a variety of tasks, from navigating the hallways of a residential facility to learning to use specialized restroom equipment. These nurses also keep an eye on the mental health of their patients, with the goal of providing both physical and emotional support in addition to respectful care.


Several nursing associations focused on gerontological nursing can be found around the world. These organizations may offer additional certifications and qualifications to nurses who wish to become more employable, and they also help to set standards in the field. Some may conduct research, hold annual conventions, and become involved in other aspects of gerontological nursing as a career.

Employment prospects in the field of gerontological nursing are generally quite good. Many older people are living longer than ever before, and some require the special care and attention which can be provided by gerontological nurses. People who are interested in this field should be aware that it can be extremely emotionally challenging, as patients tend to die more frequently than in other fields of nursing. In some cultures, the elderly may be essentially abandoned in retirement facilities, with little support from their families, which can be hard for nurses. On the flip side, some family caregivers are extremely involved in the care of the elderly, and this can also be stressful for nurses, as they must be able to cooperate and coordinate with caregivers and their patients.


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Post 3

@googie98: Even though they might not remember who you are later, Alzheimer’s patients want to be loved and cared for and communicated with. They thrive on human contact.

An important aspect in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients is to recognize that they can become aggressive without even realizing it. They don’t mean any harm. They are not aware of what they are doing. You have to display an extreme amount of patience. Many people with Alzheimer’s aren’t even aware that they have loss of memory.

Post 2

@googie98: Working with Alzheimer’s patients can be very challenging, but yet rewarding at the same time. These patients can be very emotionally fragile. Providing emotional support is very important. Also, try to help them maintain their social contacts and familiar activities.

Alzheimer’s patients are also very prone to injuries and accidents. They can easily get lost, as well. You should always keep a positive attitude, as they say that attitude is contagious. Try to honor their requests, if possible. Don’t argue with them even if you believe their request is irrational.

Alzheimer’s patients can be a joy to be around and they need all of the support they can get.

Post 1

I am starting a new job soon in the healthcare field. I was told that many of the people that I will be caring for have Alzheimer's. Is there anything special that I should know or be aware of?

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