Geriatric care professionals are trained individuals who provide specialized care and support to the elderly population. They work in various facilities that cater to the unique needs of older adults, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, home care agencies and hospitals. They provide in-home assistance, medical monitoring and companionship for seniors who wish to age in place.
Unlike general nursing or other healthcare roles, geriatric care requires a deep understanding of the physiological, psychological and social changes that occur with aging specifically. Professionals in this field will focus on improving the health and well-being of older adults, acquiring specialized knowledge about diseases, conditions and syndromes prevalent among older patients.
Those in geriatric benefit from a holistic approach to care that nurtures not just the physical health of older patients but also their mental, emotional and social well-being. The goal of geriatric care can be both interventional and preventative. Professionals in this field work hard to help older adults maintain their independence and functionality by proactively managing their health.
Another contrast with other healthcare professions is patient interactions. While other nurses mostly have short-term relationships with patients, especially those in critical care settings, geriatric care nurses often form long-term relationships with patients, as many elderly individuals require ongoing support and comfort for chronic conditions as they reach the end of their lives.
What Does Someone in Geriatric Care Do?
- Assessment: Geriatric care practitioners conduct thorough assessments of patients’ physical, mental and emotional health to develop personalized care plans.
- Medication Management: They oversee medication regimens, considering potential interactions and side effects that might be more relevant for the elderly.
- Fall Prevention: Preventing falls is a significant concern – even a simple trip can result in long-term damage and a potentially permanent disability. Geriatric care professionals need to evaluate their patients’ living environments for safety hazards as well as each patient’s fall risk to prevent a catastrophic accident from occurring.
- Chronic Disease Management: Older adults often have multiple chronic conditions happening simultaneously that need careful management, requiring geriatric care experts to coordinate care across specialties.
- Counseling: They offer emotional support to patients dealing with grief, loss and adjustments related to aging. Many patients requiring geriatric care will be nearing the end of their lives, so you’ll need to support them with innate compassion and understanding. Providing authentically caring human interactions in a patient’s later years is arguably the most meaningful contribution of healthcare workers in geriatric settings.
- Advocacy: Geriatric care professionals advocate for their patients, ensuring their voices are heard in healthcare decisions. Elderly patients can especially feel like they lack any agency in their treatment plan as their bodies and minds decline, so it’s essential to act in their stead.
Salary Difference Between Geriatric Care Nurses and Other Nurses
The average annual salary for a geriatric nurse is $68,791 to $70,585 with an average hourly wage of $30.68, which is on par with other healthcare professions. Some specialized roles within geriatric care, like geriatric nurse practitioners, might command higher salaries due to their advanced practice status. Their salary can range from $100,356 to $124,283.
Do I Need a Specialized Degree to Work in Geriatric Care?
While only a general nursing degree is required to work in geriatric care, specialized certifications or additional education in geriatric care can enhance your skills and career prospects.
While nurses can receive specialized training for geriatric nursing, there are some innate personalities and temperament characteristics that make some nurses particularly well suited to geriatric care.
These positions can feel tedious and may require a higher degree of constant vigilance compared to other types of nursing (especially in memory care settings or with patients who have a high fall risk or incontinence). Compassion and real empathy for the elderly can be extremely beneficial for nurses in these settings.
The emotional and physical drain of these positions is one of the reasons geriatric nurses are on the higher end of the compensation spectrum for nursing.
Start Your Journey Into Geriatric Care With a Strong and Reputable Education
St. Louis College of Health Careers LPN to RN programs will thoroughly train you for a career in geriatric care as well as prepare you for a career in other healthcare settings. Our rigorous and insightful course offerings are designed to instill critical thinking and reasoning skills so you can provide personalized patient care in any environment.
Start your application or call 866-529-2070 today to learn more about our programs and how you can open the doors to your desired career path today.