NRS 434 Describe the characteristics of the aging process
NRS 434 Describe the characteristics of the aging process
The aging process may seem obvious on the surface, but many parts of the body go through changes that are not visible unless an examination is completed. “An individual who maintains a healthy lifestyle, has access to adequate, routine medical care and screenings, and enters into late adulthood with a clean bill of health will experience a vastly different aging process than someone who is sedentary, makes poor diet and lifestyle choices, and has lived with chronic disease before and upon entry into late adulthood”(Flint, 2023). For a geriatric patient, “the process of a head-to-toe physical assessment mirrors that of the young and middle-age adult; however, particular attention should be paid to the changes of aging on the integumentary system; the head, neck, and face; and the musculoskeletal system and corresponding functional status”(Falkner et al., 2022). A geriatric patient may be more prone to UTIs if they are incontinent, may be a high fall risk due to impaired balance and use of assistive devices, or may be a safety risk due to short-term memory loss and poor safety judgment. Nurses should also be aware of specific acute changes related to geriatric patients such that confusion in the elderly can be an early sign of a UTI. Many of the cognitive and mobility changes which can be completely debilitating puts a geriatric patient at a high risk for abuse. The WHO describes abuse as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. This type of violence constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect(WHO, 2022). Nurses should build a rapport with patients to properly identify any signs of physical or psychological abuse and report any suspected abuse.
Falkner, A., Green, S. (2022). Health Assessment: Foundations for Effective Practice. Grand Canyon University. https://bibliu.com/app/#/view/books/1000000000584/epub/Cover.html#page_1
Flint B, Tadi P. Physiology, Aging. [Updated 2023 Jan 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556106/
World Health Organization. (2022). Abuse of older people. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/abuse-of-older-people
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I agree that understanding how aging affects the body is important, especially for older patients. Taking care of one’s health and seeing the doctor regularly can make a big difference in how we age. When examining older patients, it’s important to pay attention to changes in their skin, head, neck, face, and muscles. These areas can be affected by aging, so we need to check them carefully.
Older patients are more likely to get urinary tract infections if they have trouble controlling their bladder. They also have a higher risk of falling due to balance problems and using walking aids. Sometimes, their memory loss and judgment can make them vulnerable to accidents. It’s crucial for nurses to watch out for signs of confusion, as it could be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
As people get older, their cognitive and physical changes can make them more vulnerable to abuse. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, and it’s a violation of their rights. Nurses need to build trust with their patients and be alert for any signs of abuse. If they suspect abuse, they should report it to protect the patient’s safety. It’s important to understand how aging affects older patients and to take steps to keep them safe and healthy. By being observant and reporting any signs of abuse, nurses can make a positive difference in the lives of older adults.
CDC. (2021a, June 2). Fast facts: Preventing elder abuse. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/fastfact.htm
I completely agree with your statements, I would like to add some points. When performing a health assessment on a geriatric patient compared to a middle-aged adult, we nurses need to consider specific factors related to aging and potential age-related changes in health.
Geriatric patients experience physiological changes associated with aging, such as decreased organ function, sensory changes, and decreased muscle mass. Nurses should consider these changes when interpreting assessment findings and understanding the baseline health status of the patient (Potter et al., 2021).
Geriatric patients may have cognitive impairments, including dementia or delirium. Nurses should adapt their assessment techniques to accommodate for cognitive limitations, using clear and simple language and allowing extra time for responses (Jarvis, 2020).
Geriatric patients may have hearing or vision impairments, which can affect their ability to effectively communicate during the assessment. Nurses should ensure appropriate lighting, use visual aids if necessary, and speak clearly and audibly to facilitate communication (Fauci et al., 2020).
Geriatric patients often take multiple medications, which can increase the risk of drug interactions, adverse effects, and medication non-adherence. Nurses should conduct a comprehensive medication assessment, including a review of prescribed and over-the-counter medications, to identify potential issues and ensure patient safety (Halter et al., 2017).
Fauci, A. S., Braun Wald, E., Kasper, D. L., Hauser, S. L., Longo, D. L., Jameson, J. L., & Loscalzo, J. (2020).
Halter, J. B., Ouslander, J. G., Studenski, S., High, K. P., Asthana, S., & Supiano, M. A. (2017). Hazzard’s geriatric medicine and gerontology (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Jarvis, C. (2020). Physical examination & health assessment (8th ed.). Saunders.
Potter, P. A., Perry, A. G., Stockert, P., & Hall, A. M. (2021). Fundamentals of nursing (10th ed.). Elsevier.
Aging is a complex process that involves changes in various systems, including biological, physiological, environmental, psychological, behavioral, and social systems. While some age-related changes, like graying hair, are harmless, others can have more significant impacts. These include sensory loss, difficulties in daily activities, increased vulnerability to illness, frailty, and disability (National Institutes of Health, n.d.).
As individuals grow older, they become more vulnerable in multiple ways, encompassing physical, emotional, and financial aspects. Challenges may arise in areas such as self-care, medication management, and decision-making. Social isolation and dependence on others can exacerbate their susceptibility to various forms of harm (CDC, 2021).
Aging can also bring about changes in cognitive function. Some individuals may experience mild cognitive impairment, which can affect memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities. In more severe cases, dementia-related disorders can lead to significant memory loss and cognitive decline (Johnson & Fertel, 2023).
Moreover, emotional and psychological changes are common among older adults. They face an increased risk of experiencing sadness, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness or isolation. (Johnson & Fertel, 2023).
When conducting health assessments for older adults, it is crucial to take a comprehensive approach. This involves evaluating not only their physical health but also their cognitive, functional, and psychosocial well-being. Screening for cognitive impairment, depression, functional limitations, and social support networks should be integrated into the assessments (Van Royen et al., 2020).
In terms of communication, nurses should tailor their approach to accommodate any cognitive limitations that the older adult may have. This may involve speaking slowly, using simple language, and allowing sufficient time for the patient to comprehend information. Repeating important instructions and involving family or caregivers can enhance clarity and understanding (Van Royen et al., 2020).
By considering these factors and adapting their care accordingly, nurses can provide comprehensive and compassionate support to geriatric patients, promoting their well-being and minimizing potential risks associated with the aging process.
CDC. (2021a, June 2). Fast facts: Preventing elder abuse. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/fastfact.html
Johnson, M., & Fertel, H. (2023, February 20). Elder abuse – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560883/
National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Understanding the dynamics of the aging process. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/aging-strategic-directions-research/understanding-dynamics-aging
Van Royen, K., Van Royen, P., De Donder, L., & Gobbens, R. J. (2020, September 28). Elder abuse assessment tools and interventions for use in the home environment: A scoping review. Clinical interventions in aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7533912/
I support your point that aging can bring changes in cognitive function .Cognition is critical for functional independence as people age, including whether someone can live independently, manage finances, take medications correctly, and drive safely. In addition, intact cognition is vital for humans to communicate effectively, including processing and integrating sensory information and responding appropriately to others. Cognitive abilities often decline with age. It is important to understand what types of changes in cognition are expected as a part of normal aging and what type of changes might suggest the onset of a brain disease.
It is imperative to understand the effects of age on cognition because of the rapidly increasing number of adults over the age of 65 and the increasing prevalence of age-associated neurodegenerative dementias. Over the past century, the life span for both men and woman has increased dramatically. For example, in 1910 the life expectancy of a man was 48 years and a woman was 52 years. In 2010, this has increased to 76 years for men and 81 for women. The number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to more than double over the next 40 years, increasing from 40 million in 2010 to 89 million in 2050. Because many more people are living longer, the number of people with age-associated neurodegenerative dementias also is increasing rapidly. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.2 million people in the United States had a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease (AD) in 2014, and the number of people with a diagnosis of AD is projected to increase to 13.8 million people in 2050, unless effective preventative or treatment strategies are developed. Thus, it is vital to understand how age impacts cognition and what preventative or treatment strategies might preserve cognition into advanced age. Any approaches that could decrease the negative effects of age on cognition or decrease the risk of developing a neurodegenerative dementia would have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of millions of older adults in the United States.
The increasing number of older adults and the prevalence of age-associated neurodegenerative dementias highlight the importance of understanding the effects of age on cognition. As life expectancy continues to rise, it presents an opportunity to improve the quality of life for millions of older adults. By developing preventative or treatment strategies that preserve cognition in advanced age, we can make a tremendous positive impact. Investing in research and initiatives that aim to decrease the negative effects of aging on cognition, providing older adults with the opportunity to lead fulfilling and vibrant lives for longer. Together, we can make a difference in the well-being of older adults across the United States.