The Elderly Are Devalued - page 4

During the many years that I have spent browsing these forums, I have noticed a common theme regarding the preconceived notions that many people in healthcare have expressed about long term care... Read More

  1. by   TopazLover
    One thing I have not seen, but may have missed while skimming this thread, is the fact that nurses who care for the elderly have frail patients, quickly changing situations similar to peds. Dehydration is so common and yet under reported. Nurses have to have great assessment skills and know what is normal for this person who has survived the ravages of time. They may have a chronic CHF that if listened to once and not looking at the whole picture will send the patient to the ER. I have seen this happen.

    Many of our elders need a bit more time to tell their histories. They have some confusion, or lots of brain damage, or perhaps they are used to stoically facing physical problems of the aged. It may be hard to tell their stories.

    In many cases the ability to think clearly or speak clearly is impaired or gone. At that point the nurse becomes even more of a detective and I often thought of myself as smilar to a vet. Not that I compared the elders to animals, I compared the need to understand non-verbal communications more clearly.

    I wish elders here were more valued. It really is up to those of us who love geriatrics to call people on their attitudes and behaviors. I have seen many unnecessary heel breakdowns coming from acute care because they did not think about how sensitive the skin of an elder is or use booties, etc. When nurses start talking about "GOMERS" we need to speak up and address the wisdom coming through the doors, not just the problems of skin tears and rollling veins.

    Great thought provoking writing from all.
  2. by   allegator
    This topic brings to mind a thread that I started almost 10 years ago regarding the "undertreatment" (abandonment) of my father:
    How vividly I can still recall the overt hostility on the part of the nursing staff at the very idea of aggressively treating a 91-year-old, and I believe that this attitude is what killed him.

    In the decade since my father's death I did everything I could to hold the bad actors accountable, with little to show for it.
    Last edit by Esme12 on May 18, '13 : Reason: TOS
  3. by   LoveMyBoxer99
    I have been treated this way as well. After being an LPN for 17 years with most of that time in LTC (I have years of hospital experience as well) - most of my RN instructors and classmates give me "the look" when I tell them I am staying in LTC.

    I am PROUD to be a LTC nurse! I love working with our geriatric population and I believe that nursing homes in general have some of the most dedicated and diverse workers in the industry.

    Those that have negative attitudes toward our work may have various reasons to feel that way, but never disrespect the work that I do or those that I work with. I respect the profession and all areas within. Please hold the same respect for us.

    May you ALL be blessed with success - no matter which area you devote yourself to!
  4. by   BrandonLPN
    When it comes to discussions as to why the elderly receive substandard care in nursing homes, the blame is too often place on the staff of these facilities. This isn't fair.

    The truth is, the elderly receive exactly the level of care that our society deems fit to give. Which, of course, is not very much care at all. And the blame is entirely with society as a whole and how we undervalue the elderly in every way. We are a nation that worships the cult of youth. Nursing homes are given less resources and funding because people don't care about the people who live there. If they did, more resources would be allotted.

    LTC nurses do the best with what they have every day. It burns me when hospital nurses imply nursing home staff are incompetent. It's ridiculous to pass judgement when you are equipped with every diagnostic tool imaginable and have a fleet of doctors at the snap of a finger. I have 49 residents, and my "diagnostic reources" consist entirely of a vitals machine and my wits. But, then, if society is really so outraged about the state of nursing homes, why don't they do something about it?

    Would people stand for children being treated the way nursing home residents are treated? Would they accept one LPN and three aides for fifty sick kids? No! There'd be a public outcry. But it's acceptable for the elderly.

    And this disdain for the elderly plays out within the nursing profession, too. Those that care for the elderly are undervalued, too. Hospital nurses constantly look down their noses at LTC nurses. The work we do is somehow less important.

    Tell another nurse you're a ICU nurse, the response is "How cool!"

    Tell another nurse you're a pediatric nurse, the response is "Oh, you must have a special heart!"

    Tell another nurse you're a geriatric nurse, the response is usually "I would never do that". Which, of course, is just a veiled insult. What they're really saying is "I'm too good for that". Just another indicator of the lowly status elder care is assigned.
    Last edit by BrandonLPN on May 14, '13
  5. by   JBMmom
    I have had a few fellow recent grads tell me "I'm sorry" when I tell them I found a position in LTC. Granted, I can't say that I took the job out of a deep love for the population, it was a right-time, right-place situation that I have found I really enjoy. I have found the working conditions very frustrating, and as BrandonLPN pointed out very well, the whole system is set up in a very flawed manner. The other day one of the aides was telling me to wait until the state is here and then see how much staff we have on hand. Well, if we need to be staffed to that level to do our jobs up to state standards, then I think it's irresponsible of the facility to staff at levels below that for the other 360-something days a year. I understand that it's a business and they have profits to consider, but in most areas of society, blatantly putting profits ahead of people in value will provoke outrage somewhere, but not here. Very sad.
  6. by   ricksy
    I graduated nursing school at the age of 52. Second career. I was the only one in my class who verbalized wanting to LTC. I love it. I find that most of the CNA forget that the residents are human beings....and that everyone's life has a story. When I see photos of farms and families in rooms, my heart thobs and I imagine what their lives must have been like. Often, given the chance, I ask a family member. The families are stunned that I actually ask. Sometimes I tease my young co workers that since I am so old! HA...that when I finish work, they can get me a room there.............
    Last edit by ricksy on May 15, '13 : Reason: spelling

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