The following question was asked of a random group of Journal of Gerontological Nursing readers: How do you feel about coring for an older person with sexually transmitted disease?
That person deserves the same care, respect, and confidentiality as any other patient. I do not judge people on their lifestyles in my practice of nursing.
Director of Nursing
Conejos County Hospital
La Joro, Colorado
Caring for an older person with a sexually transmitted disease provides another opportunity to touch the life of someone who needs compassionate nursing care, to make a difference in their quality of life. Providing care to this type of patient allows utilization of the knowledge and skills required to meet their needs, needs which frequently present challenges to nursing care. This is what professional nursing is all about.
Tonnetto H. Flennoy, BSN, MSN
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Gerontology
Veterans Administration Medical Center
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama
He or she is a patient who needs my care. I will use "universal precautions" and I will make sure everyone else will. He or she will not be different to me than another client who does not have a sexually transmitted disease.
Socorro S. Linares, RN, BSN
Director of Nursing
St. Mary Guest Home
Morgan City, Louisiana
Feelings are a challenging aspect of caring for an elder with a sexually transmitted disease diagnosis. My initial feelings of surprise and disbelief change into a realization that we are all vulnerable to the same illnesses and emotional issues regardless of our ages. A soft compassionate and caring emerge to blend with the older person's sense of embarrassment yet philosophical acceptance of the sexually transmitted disease. This type of care has been a humanly unifying experience for me.
Lois A. Gerber, MPH, RN, CS
Director, Community Connections, Inc.
Visiting Instructor, Community Health Nursing
Oakland University School of Nursing
Throughout my career in nursing (20+ years), I have always believed in caring for the whole person. Medically and emotionally managing symptoms whether related to aging, infection, mobility, or grief. I believe in setting goals for wellness for the person that are achievable without judgment as to diagnosis, age, or disease process.
Nancy Leone-Schmidt, RN, BSN
Nursing Manager, Discharge Planning
Vassar Brothers Hospital
Poughkeepsie, New York
As long as I was made aware of the disease, I would have no problem. I teach and practice universal precautions, but I feel we should know with what disease process we are dealing.
Mary Jeanne Dichicco, RN
Lighthouse Nursing Care Center
As a gero-nurse practitioner, I know that sexual interest, activity, and needs are maintained well into old age. My goal includes not only the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases but the prevention of further transmission and recurrence through client education and follow-up. Above all, as a nurse, I must never be judgmental of my fellow human beings, for if I am, I will have lost the very essence of nursing.
Judith C Casingal, RN, MSN, CDE
Administrative Assistant, Patient Services
Lake Wales Medical Centers, Inc.
Laice Wales, Florida
I would not have any problem caring for someone with a sexually transmitted disease. I would expect o be informed of such a diagnosis so I could protect myself and others hat I come in contact with.
Roberta Bitei, MS, RNC
Hebrew Home & Hospital
West Hartford, Connecticut
There is no difference in caring for an older person with a STD. fhe most important aspect is to be iupportive and offer education and counseling to the individual. It is probable it would be harder to :ounsel and advise since frank sexuil discussions would be harder for a generation that does not discuss sexiality openly.
Louise DeRagon, BA, AS, RN, C
Staff Development Coordinator
Mt. Grey/ode ECF
No differently than treating any other person with a STD. First we need to accept that sexuality exists across the lifespan. We need to acknowledge that sexual expression, if desired and mutually consensual, could and should take place in our elderly population. Through education and primary prevention we can assist active and healthy sexual relationships in our geriatric population and decrease the incidence of STDs
Angela A. Boyie, BSN
The fact that the patient's diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease be revealed to all relevant medical personnel - having written that I believe that all humans have a right to the best possible medical /nursing care available, whatever the diagnosis in an atmosphere which protects the patient as well as the caregiver.
Marcella A. Beyer, RN
former nursing home supervisor
I feel that when I chose my career, I would have to treat people no matter what their diagnosis is in the same way I would want one of my loved ones treated. Give them the best care possible and the kind of respect they deserve!
Donnell Merrow, LPN
Albany County Nursing Home
Albany, New York
No differently than I would feel about caring for a person with a sexually transmitted disease in any age group. Caring is what I was called to do and age has nothing to do with it. There are still physical, emotional and spiritual needs to be met!
Darlene M. Halverson, RNC, CARN
Mayo Medical Center
These are human beings who need care. We as professional individuals have the responsibility to care for them. At the same time we need to practice the techniques as taught to us and required of us for safe practice.
Sr. Bonaventure Schmeídler, SC, RN, BSN,
Coordinator of Bayley Place Nurse Aide
Sisters of Charity
Mt. St. Joseph, Ohio
I would feel very comfortable caring for an older person with a sexually transmitted disease. On the one hand I'd be glad to know that they were engaging in sexual activity as long as it was enjoyable and consensual. On the other hand I'd wonder why they weren't educated about using barriers to prevent STDs. It would give me an opportunity to do some education.
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Boston City Hospital
Geriatrics and Home Care
This question was submitted by Virginia Burggraf, MSN, RN, C, American Nurses Association, Washington, D.C
Ms. Burggraf responds:
Sexually transmitted disease in the needs to be treated in the same way that we treat disease. A disease is an indicathat something is wrong with body, regardless of age; as nurses there is no for bias in our practice. Being aware that sexually transmitted disoccur for a number of reasons: of education, loneliness and the for a human touch (at any cost) and perhaps a depression that says, "I no longer care." Treat the problem, investigate its cause and you and the client will both be richer for the experience.
We need to be neutral about many issues and factors when we choose to take on the caring role. It is a credit to our profession that anyone, anytime, in any condition, can look to us to assist them on the path to health and wholeness.