The health of the American people has never been better. It is anticipated that there will be better and further improvements in the coming decade, not only through increased medical care and/ or expenditures, but through renewed individual and national commitments to those efforts designed to prevent disease arid promote health.
One survey indicates that more than 50% of Americans are much more concerned about disease prevention than they were a few years ago. Increased public interest in nutrition and exercise is evidenced daily in the media. During the past few years, attention has been focused frequently upon the "health center" - variously called conditioning center, reconditioning center, fitness center, longevity center, and, sometimes inelegantly, the fat farm.
Many of these centers are live-in arrangements for specific time periods. Some employ nurses as members of the "team" and it may be that another nursing speciality is "a-borning. " In order to function effectively in this particular setting, the nurse must be able to develop and sustain therapeutic relationships over prolonged periods of time. Teaching and counseling skills are utilized extensively and are of the utmost importance.
Here the nurse must serve as a role model in every facet of the regimen if the program is to be credible. Programs appear to be most successful when the nurse is an active participant - where the pupil and teacher (patient and nurse) eat, exercise, work, and study together daily.
In this setting, the nurse has an unparalleled opportunity to implement the "holistic approach" in nursing care. Although physically demanding and, on occasion, emotionally exhausting, this approach also can be extremely gratifying. It is here that the nurse can assist others to effect lifestyle changes that will promote and maintain health as well as prevent disease.
We salute these very special nurses and would encourage them to share their experiences with the holistic approach to caring for the elderly by submitting letters and articles for publication.