Department of Nursing at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center

Understanding the Role of a Gerontological Nurse

Gerontological nursing is a nursing specialty which revolves around the care of older adults. Gerontological nurses are devoted to improving the health, independence and quality of life of older people.

Specialists in gerontological 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 gerontological nursing, such as caring for people with Alzheimer's disease and other  dementias, or providing care to the elderly in their homes.

This aspect of the nursing field covers a wide variety of settings. A gerontological nurse may provide home care, or may choose to work in a nursing facility such as a hospital, residential facility, retirement home or adult day health program. Gerontological 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. Gerontological 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.

As valuable members of a patient’s health care team, gerontological nurses collaborate with other health care professionals to make sure their elderly patients are receiving the necessary services.   The care they provide often extends beyond the patient to their families.  They often provide support and education to alleviate the stress that family caregivers experience.

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