Imprint 2022 January - Page 21

Inspired to Specialze in Gerontological Nursing

By Alexis Roam

I grew up admiring my grandmother , who , to me , epitomized classic beauty . The sound of big band music greeted me when I entered my grandparents ’ home , and I often found her engaged in artistic pursuits ; painting , sculpting , sewing , and baking were her cherished creative outlets . If none of those had captured her attention , we would take long walks and talk of those special secrets that granddaughters confide only to their grandmothers . She was many things , including a savvy businesswoman who owned a high-end women ’ s clothing boutique . She enchanted me with stories of attending fashion shows and the clothing markets in New York City while showing me her collection of vintage clothing that had graced the covers of the likes of Vogue magazine .

I loved her deeply , and perhaps that love is what initially prevented me from acknowledging the significance of her decline after my grandfather ’ s death . I was terribly afraid that one day I wouldn ’ t recognize the grandmother I idolized . Over time , her grief morphed into depression and anxiety . As her interest in pursuits that she was once passionate about dwindled into shadowed memories , so did her cognition and physical stamina . Side effects from taking her medication incorrectly , falls , and incontinence all took a toll ; the deleterious experiences she endured were compounded by the normal physiological changes of aging and her diagnosis of heart disease . She once told me “ Aging is not for the meek .”
Gerontological Nursing Caring for my grandmother gave me a new perspective on how frightened and powerless family members feel . It also prompted a profound shift in my attitude toward gerontological nursing ; I not only recognized gerontological nursing as a specialty , but I also came to value it with the same reverence as other nursing disciplines such as pediatric or emergency nursing .
My epiphany is ironic , given that I had mostly cared for elderly patients when working in a skilled nursing facility ( SNF ), a hospital , and in home health . That appreciation for practicing in a specialty field of nursing has remained with me and is now a driving force in my professional endeavors . By supporting gerontological nurse colleagues and educating healthcare professionals at every opportunity , I hope to bolster the value gerontological nursing offers our healthcare system and society as a whole .
Simply defined , a gerontological nurse is one who cares for the elderly . However , this simplistic definition does not begin to cover the breadth or depth of this specialized type of nursing . The gerontological nurse possesses in-depth knowledge of the normal changes of aging and cares for elders as they navigate the relationship
Caring for my grandmother gave me a new perspective on how frightened and powerless family members feel .
between wellness and aging . Gerontological nurses understand that by fostering wellness , the elder ’ s strengths are promoted ; gerontological nurses simultaneously address elders ’ needs as age advances or disease and illness progress . The result is improved quality of life and outcomes of care .
Confronting the Stigmas As a nursing student , I had dreams of pursuing a career as a maternity nurse . A few days of clinicals on a maternity ward dispelled that notion , and I found myself adrift , unsure what I would do . A persistent desire or calling to care for elders compelled me to reconsider the SNF setting where I had felt a sense of purpose and accomplishment when I worked there as a certified nurse assistant ( CNA ).