The "Readers Respond" column is designed to give you, our readers, a chance to respond to a particular article, ask a question of an author or Editorial Board member, or speak out about the Journal and care of the elderly in general. We will offer authors the opportunity to respond to criticism and/or questions that may be generated by their articles. Both the response and the original letter will be published in the same issue. If you wish to share your comments with our readers, please send your letter to the JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING, Charles B. Slack, Inc., 6900 Grove Road, Thorofare, New Jersey 08086.
To the Editor:
ADRDA was very pleased with the special issue of Journal of Gerontological Nursing which featured Alzheimer's Disease. We have had many calls from people expressing their interest and appreciation for this fine issue and we wish 'to compliment you on the work you did. We take a special pride in this issue since so many ADRDA members were involved and especially appreciated Irene Burnside's introductory comments,
Alzheimer's Disease and
Related Disorders Association, Inc.
To the Editor:
As Chairperson of the Massachusetts Nurses Association Gerontological Nurse Practice Group and as an educator in the field, I have had the fortunate experience of working with nurses caring for the elderly in almost every setting. I recently was asked by a muhidisciplinary group 10 describe the role of the geriatric nurse. I submit the following:
The Role of the Geriatric Nurse
The profession of nursing has long played a central role in the care of the elderly client. Nursing homes are staffed predominantly by nurses añd, as the largest single group of health professionals, nurses are the dominant care providers for this group. Also, as the mean age of the hospitalized client rises through the improvement of pharmacological knowledge and technological advances, the hospital nurse today, finds herself in the role of geriatric nurse as well.
Medicine treats human disease. Nursing treats the human response to that disease. The nurse plays a central role in coordination of services and collaboration with the interdisciplinary teams addressing the needs of the geriatric client. It is she who acts as an advocate for the elderly in all settings. Nursing care measures such as health teaching, promotion of comfort, and assurance of a safe environment for the elderly client enable the geriatric person to respond to the health plan best suited to them. The nurse's role is one of continual assessment of the client, the environment (both internal and external), the client's support systems, and health deficits that require attention. She is the person most likely, to be there to assess the elderly person's actual nutritional intake and response to such therapy as prescribed medications and physical therapy. It is her role to share these assessments with the rest of the health care team in order to best serve the elderly. She collaborates with the elderly client, family, and health team in order to devise the most effective personalized approach to that client's care. She refers elderly clients for consultation and helps channel them into community services.
Whether the nurse's role is one of rehabilitation or helping the elderly toward a peaceful death, she works toward a goal that is set forth by her elderly client.
Terry Fulmer, RN
Assistant Professor of Nursing