In this issue, Virginia Burggraf and Richard Barry offer an informative and timely overview of Healthy People 2010 (pp. 16-22). One avenue for achieving these national objectives that is not given much attention, however, is the role that gerontological/geriatric research can and should play.
Shortly after reading the page proofs of the Healthy People 2010 article, I picked up the September issue of the Journal of Gerontology (Vol. 55A, No. 9 ) and gave it a quick review. I was struck immediately by how many of the published reports in the medical sciences section of this journal alone were applicable to the focal areas of Healthy People 2010 as set forth in the Table of the Burggraf and Barry article.
For example, several articles related to items 2 (arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic back conditions), 6 (disability and secondary conditions), 14 (immunization and infectious disease), and 22 (Physical activity and fitness) in the Table. An article by Snow, Shaw, Winters, and Witzke (2000), discussed prevention of hip bone loss (a risk factor for hip fracture) by exercise among postmenopausal women. Another by Kenny, Prestwood, Marcello, and Raisz (2000) related to bone density and testosterone levels in healthy older men. Another article reported on functional recovery after hip fracture, while a fourth in this same section dealt with the role of standing orders in increasing vaccination rates for influenza (Lawson, Baker, Au, & McElhaney, 2000). Others in the issue examined topics such as correlates of disability in retirees and the effects of postprandial hypotension on falls and syncope in elders.
My point here is not to review in depth the contents of this randomly scanned issue, but rather to emphasize that we seem to be generating a sufficient number of relevant research findings in the area of the health of older adults. A particular challenge, and one that gerontological nurses must be fully involved in, is to be able to translate the information derived from studies such as those mentioned above into practices that will protect and improve the health of older adults.
This process requires that gerontological nurses read widely, think critically, and implement relevant findings into their everyday care routines and patient and family education practices. In so doing, gerontological nurses will play a vital role in helping achieve the broad based initiatives set forth in Healthy People 2010.
Kathleen C. Buckwalter
- Kenney, A.M., Prestwood, K.M., Marcello, K.M. Sc Raisz, L.G. (2000). Determinants of bone density in healthy older men with low testosterone levels. Journal of Gerontology, Medical Sciences, 55A(9), 492-497.
- Lawson, R, Baker, V., Au, D., & McElhaney, J. E. (2000). Standing orders for influenza vaccination increased vaccination rates in inpatient settings compared with community rates. Journal of Gerontology, Medical Sciences, 55A(9), 522-526.
- Snow, CM., Shaw, J.M., Winters, K.M., & Witzke, K.A. (2000). Long-term exercise using weighted vests prevents hip bone loss in postmenopausal women. Journal of Gerontology, Medical Sciences, 5M(9), 489-491.