Gerontology vs. Geriatrics

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    Hi All! I'm really considering working with the elderly, I don't know how I can specialize in it but I plan to start my research soon. I am in my first semester of Nursing school (Associate Degree) and I'm just wondering how geriatrics relates to gerontology, I know gerontology is the study of old people so what exactly is geriatrics? I plan on joining the National Gerontology Nursing Association just to be more familiar with what I am considering. Can anyone clear this up? Any ideas for what I can do as a Geriatric/Gerontology Nurse? (don't know the difference!)
    poppycat and pinkiepieRN like this.
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    Gerontology is the study of the elderly population. Geriatrics IS the elderly population. Working in geriatrics could entail a variety of things:

    - Long term care (nursing home)
    - Sub-acute rehab (often found in a nursing home too)
    - Long term acute care hospital
    - Geropsych unit in a psychiatric hospital
    - Community adult day care program
    - "Memory care unit" in a nursing home (specialized for resident's with dementia)

    Have you worked as a CNA yet? Where does you interest in elderly people come from?
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    Thanks for sharing that, Dolce. In regards to NP, didn't the ANA (or whatever) remove "Adult NP" and just combine it with Gerontology?
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    I have not worked as a CNA. I am a medical assistant and before nursing school, managed podiatry offices for 5 years. They were private offices and most of our patients were old. I gained a lot of communication skills with older people and I find it interesting and challenging that many of them have illnesses in more than one body system. As I worked in the podiatry offices, I built relationships with many of them and was able to follow up on their life. Also, I really enjoy knowing that the person I am working with has a long life story and many interesting things and stories to talk about, I really like the therapeutic communication part of it, being able to make someone smile and feel better just by listening to them is an amazing feeling.
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    thanks for the feedback
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    Yeah! It's always encouraging when I hear people who want to work with geriatrics.

    I love the people I serve in the LTC where I work, but also know that the LTC population is getting younger and sicker.

    Understanding the changes that the body goes through during the aging process is very important as a nurse.

    I am a member of NGNA, they are a wonderful source of information/ resource.
    poppycat and sallyrnrrt like this.
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    i really like working with older people but i'm not sure if nursing homes are the right place for me that's why i'm trying to find out other areas. i've visited nursing homes with podiatrists just for nail cutting and it just seems like everyone is out of touch with the patients. people look just look unhappy. i'd have to run the place to make sure people have the smiles they're supposed to have hahaha. i'm a happy upbeat enthusiastic person and want to share that with others however, there are people out there who don't care much for that, they just go to work and thats it, no life meaning to it. i just pray that God puts me in the right place.
    UTX14 likes this.
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    I love my friends that I've met in the nursing home!

    Still pre-nursing, I hope to begin the nursing program in January! I am waiting for my acceptance letter.

    Last month, I began volunteering with the activities department of a nursing home here. I work 1:1 with residents who have been "forgotten about" by their families.

    My first day, I brought a few large picture books. One was of state parks, another of Spanish cathedrals. The ladies enjoyed them so! Even the lady who doesn't speak English and I communicated perfectly over art.

    For every good day that my new friends have, I feel like we have about two not-so-good days. When I have an off day, I get cranky. When they have an off day, they shut down. It took some getting used to. I am there every chance I get, and I adore them. I am learning so much! And I look forward to continuing to work with them.

    You will hear that it takes a special person to work with the elderly. It's true. Because the elderly don't open up to just anyone.

    This week, one of my new friends passed. It was such an odd feeling for me, to be happy that she had gone. But the truth is, her quality of life was less than stellar. I'm so happy that I got to be part of her smiles and laughter before she left.

    I may not end up working with them when I become a registered nurse. I hope I do, but that remains to be seen. Right now, though, I can't think of any other place I'd rather be!
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    I've always loved working with my elderly patients! The good news for you is, once you start working you'll get a ton of exposure to this population and make sure it's really what you want to do, before you end up focusing on a specialty.
    mercurysmom likes this.
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    I have always distinguished the two terms as follows:
    n Geriatrics - Branch of medicine that deals with problems & diseases of old age, aging people.
    n Gerontology – Comprehensive, multidisciplinary study of aging process & problems of older people with holistic focus, including biologic, sociologic, psychological, spiritual, & economic issues.

    Gerontology is holistic, encompassing more than the medical model, and involves all aspects of an older person’s life.


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