Among the numerous issues in the scope of nursing practice, the population of older adults takes a special place. This is due to the complexity of circumstances and a number of characteristics that this target population possesses. In particular, one should refer to the fact that aging people tend to have several chronic conditions that undermine their health and quality of life. Moreover, this population segment is most likely to suffer from disabilities, especially on the grounds of co-morbidities of chronic diseases, along with the general deterioration of physical and mental health because of aging. The number of aged individuals in the U.S. alone is going to increase from 12% to 20% during the next 20 years, since the populations’ lifespan is longer nowadays. While developed countries have at least some programs for this population group, though of dubious efficiency, Third-World and other developing countries substantially struggle to be able to handle this challenge. Therefore, the role of nursing profession in assisting these people will only become more important and valued with time. For this reason, the paper considers the issue of caring about older adults to justify the need for its comprehensive study and finding an appropriate solution for the problem in the global context.
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Historical Perspectives on Geriatric Care for Global Health Teaching/Learning in Nursing
Nurses have long been at the forefront of care delivery for the target population, but the issue has some controversial implications. On the one hand, scholars acknowledge that nursing practitioners are crucial for ensuring life quality for the elderly in the long run. On the other hand, the studies confirm that the current nursing content about the geriatric care is either fragmented or flawed to be able to provide the ample educational and practical background for nurses that could implement their knowledge when caring for these people. Apart from that, the above challenge is even more acute because of the stereotypes and negative misconceptions among practitioners that make them perceive older adults as a burden for society. At the same time, nursing scholars and practitioners, such as National League for Nursing along with Lange, emphasize on a need for a paradigm shift in the sphere, with a particular focus on a holistic approach to the complex problem on the global scale in order to ensure a person-centered and strength-based care.
Importance of Documented/Published Health Care Disparities/Inequalities
Based on the fact that needs of the target population are multiple, addressing this problem requires a well-thought-out and thorough strategy. Documenting the cases of inequality and healthcare disparities is critical in this respect. Specifically, reporting these issues will be valuable to increase the awareness of policy-makers and practitioners in terms of what to focus on foremost and within a particular region. For instance, the most recent estimates evidence that around 80% of older adults who are aged above 65 years have at least one chronic condition, including diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Therefore, nurses’ knowledge about the prevalence of particular diseases will allow developing the data-driven and evidence-based strategies for disease prevention for at-risk population among other issues. Moreover, the increase in population, especially aged 85 and more, is supplemented with the trend of high-level hospitalization. While older adults in industrialized countries are likely to receive at least some form of care, those from the developing nations have little access to resources, if any. Hence, the awareness of these disparities can be useful for organization of assistance to these individuals from the international organizations, such as the World Health Organization or other disease-specific foundations.
Healthy People 2020 is among the key regulations of health care provision for older adults on the global scale. The regulatory framework is mostly concerned with improvements of quality of life, as well as health and general functioning of the target audience. This initiative should be implemented through prevention, health education and promotion of healthy lifestyles with a specific focus on the most common health conditions, ranging from diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, to chronic bronchitis and Alzheimer’s, as well as injury prevention, to list just a few. In addition, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2010 as a US-based guideline addresses the similar needs of the target population segment. Nonetheless, these regulations are of a rather limited scope, whereas they do not cover the entire complexity of geriatric needs, thus is of fragmentary nature.
Moral Issues in Global Healthcare
Nursing care for older adults is greatly intertwined with the issues of morality. As it was previously noted, the field is sufficiently overwhelmed with various misguiding stereotypes regarding care delivery to the aging population. In a recent study, Liu, Norman and While have found that positive attitudes of nurses towards this target group were the likely predictors of practitioners’ occupation in this nursing area and higher-level commitment to their duties and responsibilities. In contrast, negative attitudes to these individuals resulted in poor outcomes. Moreover, this group is extremely vulnerable, whereas biological and cognitive aging can be the subject of physical and psychological abuse from both caregivers and family members due to ageism. Therefore, regardless of the moral obligation of nursing profession to provide care to all people in spite of their distinct characteristics, including elderly people or special health conditions, the evidence exists that this population is likely to face prejudiced attitudes from practitioners.
“Burden of Chronic Care”
As it was above mentioned in the analysis, older adults are subjected to numerous chronic conditions. These refer to heart-related diseases, cancer, mental health issues, and diabetes, among others. On the other hand, the situation is worsened by numerous co-morbid states, such as obesity, inactive\ sedative lifestyles, disability or immobility, as well as frailty among other issues. Mental health issues should not be overlooked in this regard as well. Therefore, the care for the discussed population is relevant for the nurses with a variety of specialties, while the process entails the substantial costs for providers that accounts for the global scale.
Healthcare Productivity and Economic Costs
Drawing upon the findings by King et al., the analyzed population group currently accounts for approximately 65% of in-hospital stays in the U.S. alone, though the situation is not better in the rest of the countries. In addition, older adults are four times more likely to be administered to the hospital, as compared to people less than 65 years old. These admissions account for 80% of home-based nursing care visits, 26% of visits to physicians, 36% to those of emergency units, as well as 85% of practitioners’ visits in homes. Such percentage entails huge expenditures for families and healthcare providers. Due to the fact that the percentage of the target population grows steady, the overspending on flawed addressing the issues of older adults will result into higher-level spending for the involved parties.
Summarizing the findings of the analysis, it should be admitted that older adults are a population segment that suffers numerous challenges due to aging. Moreover, nursing practitioners are likely to encounter many difficulties in the establishment and maintenance of their health in the long run and assist these individuals in living their lives qualitatively. Specifically, the relevance of this assumption is linked to the fact that elderly mostly face several chronic conditions at a time. This circumstance adds complexity to addressing their individual needs to the fullest. Additionally, not all countries have policies in place that would have assisted the analyzed population group in a thorough manner, while developed nations offer rather fragmented, disease-oriented programs, in this respect. On a similar note, the given issue is extremely acute. In particular, the number of aging people extensively grows along with the multiple expenditures on their health care delivery.
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