The Third National Symposium on Gerontological Nursing sponsored by the University Series, the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, and the Continuing Education Division, School of Nursing, Georgetown University, was held in Washington, D.C., October 26-28, 1981. "Nursing Gerontology Moving Into the 80's - the State of the Practice," attracted over 400 participants from 35 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The theme of the symposium was to increase awareness and understanding of the issues and trends in gerontology and to enhance the development of dynamic, challenging roles for nurses in gerontology.
The keynote speaker was Thelma Wells, PhD, School of Nursing, University of Michagan. Dr. Wells reported that 1975 statistics reveal only 7% of RNs work in long-term care. Yet, it is projected that 36 million Americans will be 65 years of age or older by the year 2000. The most startling increase will be in the population group aged 80 years and older, which will grow by 70%.
Dr. Wells reviewed the significant progress of the past three years of nursing publications about the aged but urged greater strides in the recruitment of nurses for graduate education in gerontology, an increase in the availability of continuing education programs for all nursing personnel working with the aged, an increase in salaries for gerontology nurses, an analysis of reimbursement issues, an identification and implementation of research issues in the care of the aged, and the establishment of networking among gerontology nurses for peer support and advancement.
Other general assembly speakers included Dr. Laurie Gunter, Department of Nursing Pennsylvania State University; Professor Anne R. Somers, New Jersey-Rutgers Medical School; Joan L. Quinn, Project Director, Triage, Inc.; Jo Eleanor Elliot, Director, Division of Nursing, Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources Administration; and Charlene Connolly Quinn, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Services. Twenty concurrent sessions provided an opportunity for participants to learn of innovative nursing roles in the care of older adults in a variety of settings and geographical locations.
Security Props for Social Security
Congress still is grappling with the problem of providing the Social Security system with some temporary financial security. But every time it thinks it plugged one hole, another one surfaces.
The Senate recently passed legislation that would "redirect Social Security payroll taxes into the three trust funds - Old Age Survivors Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Medicare. That bill also allows for interfund borrowing between OASI and Disability Insurance. The cumulative effect is more money for the old age fund and less into medicare and disability.
But now the Social Security Administration has found that the new plan would leave the Medicare trust fund in a difficult financial position by the end of 1984. Medicare hospital insurance is funded through the trust fund. In the past, the Federal government sought to have as much money on hand at the beginning of the year as it expected it would need to pay claims during that year. Over the past decade, however, this cushion has steadily shcunk so that in 1980 there was only 82% of the total needed on hand on January 1. Under the Senate plan, that cushion would drop to a mere 4% by January I, 1985.
The House Ways and Means Committee is now studying alternatives to the Senate plan. Among the options being considered is one that would allow interfund borrowing between all three of the trust funds. Actuarial estimates indicate that if such a plan were approved by Congress, the over-all cushion for Social Security by 1985 would be 16% rather than 4%. And the differences would be greater in the following years, thus helping to stave off a negative balance in the trust funds at the start of the year.
Aid To Veterans
Congress has approved legislation to provide health care to veterans who have been exposed to herbicide defoliants, including agent orange. The Senate gave its final approval to a conference agreement on the bill, which also extends for three years the Vietnam veterans storefront counseling center program. President Reagan had asked Congress to eliminate that program in his budget-cutting package, but then dropped his opposition to the legislation.
Reduction Plans for Community Health Centers
The Department of Health and Human Services has alerted regional health administrators to be prepared to make some reductions below reconciliation levels for Community Health Centers. HHS anticipates additional budget reductions for health programs.
It said the reduction plans should be made on the assumption that the Community Health Center program grant funds will be 75% below fiscal year 1981 as originally proposed by President Reagan.
Reductions should include projects in service areas with no medically underserved areas and projects not operational at the end of fiscal 1981. No fiscal 1982 funds will be used to pay for inpatient coverage and support will be reduced for dental and other health services.
Nurse Elected to USP Committee of Revision
Faye G. Abdellah, EdD., has been elected to the General Committee of Revision of the U. S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Dr. Abdellah is Chief Nurse Officer of the U. S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, and Acting Director of the Office of the Deputy Surgeon General. A registered nurse with BS, MA, and EdD degrees from Columbia University, Dr. Abdellah is the recipient of numerous academic awards and professional honors, including four honorary doctoral degrees. She is widely recognized as a pioneer in nursing research and in the development of the Federal Nurse Scientist Training Program.
Dr. Abdellah will serve on the USP Drug Standards Division Subcommittee on Parenteral Products, and the Drug Information Division Executive Committee and Subcommittees on Consumer Interest and Drug Distribution.
The USP Committee of Revision is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and adequacy of the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary, the compendia of legally recognized standards for drug quality, purity, strength, packaging, and labeling, and of USP Dispensing Information. The Committee is the decision-making body on all revisions and additions made possible by advances in science, therapy, and technology. The 1 980- 1985 Committee of Revision now comprises 26 members qualified in the medical sciences, one member representative of consumer interest, and 58 members qualified in the pharmaceutical and allied sciences, together with the Executive Director, who is Chairman of the Committee.
Actress Addresses Senate Hearings
Eighty-one-year-old actress and advocate for the aged Helen Hayes testified in favor of expanding home health care services for the aged and disabled at a hearing before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.
Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he invited Miss Hayes to testify at the final hearing on the Community Home Health Services Act, S. 234, a bill that will encourage expansion of home health care services. Miss Hayes is a member of the board of directors of the National Council on Aging, Chairwoman of the Council's National Center of Arts and the Aging, and participated in the White House Conference on Aging, 1981.
Pets for the Elderly
Pets are good medicine for the elderly - especially if they are wellmatched to the needs and lifestyles of the owners, says Gerald Jay Westbrook, a research project developer at USCs Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. "Pets increase feelings of responsibility, usefulness, self -worth and being needed," he notes. "And those are some of the main things taken away from people when they retire."
In his research of "pet therapy," Westbrook has found that animals can improve the lives of the elderly in other ways. Pets may indirectly improve an older adult's thet, for example. "People who live alone tend to skip meals," Westbrook explains. "But if you are feeding a pet, you're more likely to fix something for yourself, too. And having a pet around makes meal times not quite as lonely."
Pets may also improve an older adult's exercise regimen and timestructuring, Westbrook says, explaining that a pet may encourage its owner to participate in a number of tasks regularly, such as getting out of bed at a certain time to walk the dog, which provides not only exercise but also an opportunity for social interaction with others.
"Stuthes suggest possible decreases in blood pressure when a person strokes an animal," Westbrook reports. Another research study compared one-year survival rates of heart attack victims with and without pets and found a higher survival rate among pet owners.
Hatch Amendment Helps Disabled
Amendments proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) added more than $8 million to a program providing services for more than three million developmentally disabled people in the U.S. Hatch's amendment added $8,430,000 to recommendations from the Appropriations Committee, bringing total funding of the Developmental Disability program up to $61,180,000.
"The Developmental Disabilities program is divided into four major components consisting of state grants, protection and advocacy, special projects and university affiliated facilities (UAFs). Each has a major function or role in the provision of services to developmentally disabled persons," Hatch said.
Some 30,000 people received assistance from the protection and advocacy services in 1981, Hatch said, and participation is expected to rise dramatically. "Service providers have cut back due to reduced funding in an already inadequate service system. This program must have this money to continue its effectiveness," Hatch added.
Aging Grant Awarded
In spite of the Reagan administration's recent budget cuts in federally funded programs, the Hospital Research and Educational Trust (Trust) the research and development affiliate of the American Hospital Association (AHA), recently was awarded a $1 10,000 grant from the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
These funds will support the Trust's Office on Aging and Long-Term Care in conducting a project, "The Hospital's Role in Caring for Older Persons: Promoting Integration of Health and Social Services."
The objectives are to promote the active involvement of hospitals in planning and implementing services for older persons and to foster the integration of health and social services for older persons. The project will focus on compilingand disseminating information about hospital programs for the elderly to national hospital and aging networks, as well as to consumers and other health and social service organizations.
According to Connie Evashwick, ScD, director of the Office on Aging and Long-Term Care, "The AoA's support of the Trust's project to promote integration of health and social services for older persons is indicative of the federal government's recognition of the importance of the hospitals' role in providing comprehensive services - social, physical and mental health care - to the aging population."