Jump to content
2019 Nursing Salary Survey Read more... ×

Maureen Bonatch MSN


Activity Wall

  • Maureen Bonatch MSN last visited:
  • 68


  • 36


  • 11,083


  • 8


  • 46


  • 0


  1. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    What’s Love Got to Do With It?

    Nurses are often the healthcare professional patients turn to when they’re vulnerable. As the most trusted profession, our patients may confide information during routine care that they wouldn’t normally share. Sometimes vague or questionable information about relationships may be concerning, and raise questions as to whether emotional or physical abuse is occurring. The way we respond to the patient may determine whether they feel validated, or persist in seeking help. Emotional abuse may be challenging to define, since the signs may be subtle, or absent. Nurses are in a unique position to provide education on early interventions, prevention, and health promotion. Adequate communication, and developing an awareness of signs of emotional abuse, may provide an opportunity to offer guidance and education. Emotional Abuse Most of us have been in arguments, or yelled at someone we care about. Often we regret it and apologize later, and sometimes we don’t. These occasional outbursts are normal expressions of emotions. But if yelling or hysterical screaming is the first, and only response, that may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Emotional abuse is an attempt to control the other in a relationship. Often the perpetrator doesn't even realize they’re being emotionally abusive. They may feel insecure and blame the other for their unhappiness, or think they know what’s best. A few potential signs of emotional abuse include when one person in a relationship tends to: Respond with criticism Attempt to isolate the victim from family and friends Make unfounded accusations Constantly check on their partner’s whereabouts Review their phone, email, and computer history Accuse and place blame for their problems Humiliate with name calling, and other methods to belittle or embarrass Gaslighting Another form of emotional abuse is known as gaslighting. This manipulation tactic to gain power in a relationship makes the victim question their reality. It can occur in a relationship, the workplace, and has been used by abusers and cult leaders. Gaslighting is done slowly so it wears the victim down until they begin to doubt themselves, lose confidence and their own sense of identity. Even if the perpetrator tells lies to distract from their behavior, and deny what the victim knows is the truth, they may be begin to doubt their perception of reality. Codependency Codependency can affect the ability to have a healthy relationship. These relationships are often one-sided and emotionally destructive or abusive. Initially this term was used to describe relationships that involved alcohol or drug dependence, but it has since expanded to include relationships with someone who is mentally ill, or from a dysfunctional family. The victim may neglect their own needs, and their family and friends to support their abuser. This unhealthy behavior has become their normal. They may not know how to respond in any other way. Despite their unhappiness, often they feel guilty, and as if they’re to blame. Look for Subtle Signs We may need to confront their own fears, values, attitude and beliefs about abuse to educate themselves about signs of emotional abuse. Personal experiences and cultural upbringings may cause us to overlook the signs, or question why the patient hasn’t taken the steps to end or leave an emotionally abusive relationship. Relationships are stressful and often the victim invests significant energy into preventing the next emotionally abusive episode. They may not want the relationship to end, but want the emotionally abusive behavior to stop. Nurses can look for subtle physical signs that don’t have an identifiable underlying cause such as stress-related health issues such as digestive issues, headaches, or being evasive to the cause of an injury. Try to communicate with the patient alone in a safe, quiet setting and avoid undermining or judging the victim. Safety First Nurses play a role in identifying, and reporting, signs of domestic violence, now often referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV). Even though the majority of victims are women, men can suffer emotional or physical violence as well. Appearances shouldn’t be judged as to who seems more physically intimidating in the relationship and who might be at risk. Encourage patients who you fear might be in an unhealthy relationship to devise a safety plan if they don’t intend to leave, or a code word for family and friends to indicate they’re in trouble. Provide available hotlines and other resources so they realize that there’s help available. Increase Awareness Often patients who may suffer from emotional or physical abuse don’t ask for help, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer it. Acquiring ongoing education can help increase the awareness of emotional abuse, and the ability to identify the signs of an unhealthy relationship and how to help these patients.
  2. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Stop Putting Your Life on Hold

    Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or … Maybe never. Nurses are busy. As caregivers, we tend to put other’s needs in front of our own. We strive to do as much as we can, for as many people as possible, in the least amount of time. This can lead to missing breaks, staying for a second shift, or not taking that class we were thinking about. We might feel like we don’t have time to add one more thing, or we’re too tired to spend our personal time the way we’d planned. After a while, the tendency to put things important to us off until another day may become reflexive, and this behavior can leak into our personal life. When we keep putting our life on hold it could eventually affect our physical and mental health if we deprive ourselves of meeting our needs. Why Not Me, Why Not Now? I’ll Be Happy When… Why do we wait for happiness? Sometimes we associate a new job, finishing a class, losing weight, or a specific day of the week, as what’s standing in the way of happiness. But often once we reach that desired destination, we realize that it wasn’t the barrier. Or we discover that there’s something else we believe we should accomplish first before we can be happy. If we continue with this pattern of putting our happiness on hold, dissatisfaction may become our default emotion. I’ll Do That When I Have Time to… So far no one has had any more luck coercing Father Time to slow down than they have had in fooling Mother Nature. As much as we try, we all have the same 24 hours each day. The key is dividing up and prioritizing how we want to spend this time. If we feel as if we have no time to do what we want, or what we enjoy, it can take an emotional toll. Make living life now a priority, instead of waiting to enjoy life. They’ll Be Upset If I Don’t… Sometimes it’s difficult to say no when helping others can feel satisfying. It can provide us with a sense of pride and purpose. But if we spend too much time giving to others and neglecting ourselves it can build resentment. We can still be helpful to others, although if we always say, yes, and never say, no, we might never have any space on our calendar for ourselves. Time to Let It Go We’re allowed to change. What worked at one stage of our life might not bring us joy in another. There are many things that occur in our lives that can cause us to shift our schedule, or our priorities, or to put goals on hold. They could be related to different stages of our career, our life, or those of our family, that require our attention. Although the years may pass, and things may change, sometimes we’re left with the mindset from a different time of our life. It might be time to let go of obligations that don’t fit what we want out of our life now. If we do a self-assessment, we might determine that we might be compromising aspects of our self-care. This could result in us pushing our bodies harder than we should to meet what we feel are our obligations day after day. We should be able to shift our perspective to feel joy, instead of guilt, when we reach for what we want instead of putting our needs on hold. Self-Care Isn’t Selfish It might feel as if we’re being selfish in making ourselves, and our lives, a priority. As nurses, we educate our clients about taking care of themselves with proper sleep and nutrition for better overall health and well-being, but we don’t always listen to our own advice. We know that listening to our body can help more than just us. When we work to meet our needs first, and our goals, we shouldn’t think of it as being selfish. It can help us be more productive, to be able to give more to others, and care for our patients easier. Self-care should extend to examining the goals we’ve put on hold for our personal and professional life. Even starting with small steps toward bigger goals and dreams can help refresh our mindset and help us remember what’s important. Gain a Positive Return on Investing in Yourself Don’t put your personal wellbeing on the back burner by always saying yes to things you don’t want to do, or that don’t serve you purposefully, or that take time away from meeting your goals. You might find a much more positive return on investing in yourself. What Have You Put on Hold in Your Life?
  3. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Make These Resolutions Anytime of the Year

    The New Year’s Eve ball drop starting the year may already feel like a distant memory, and many of us have already dropped the ball on our New Year’s resolutions. This occurs so frequently that January 17th has been dubbed as, Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day. There’s no reason to be hard on yourself if your resolution didn’t stick. Just because January 1st feels like a clean slate, you don’t have to wait another year to begin to make positive changes. We tend to wait for a new month, a new week, or a new year, to make a change, when we can resolve to make changes anytime of the year. Focus on Making Small Changes Change is hard. It can take 21 days to, break, or form a habit, and many claim that it takes even longer. The changes we wish to make are usually big ones. Things we think that will bring happiness once accomplished. Perhaps we should focus on creating new habits, instead of breaking old ones. If we start making little changes with ourselves, and the people closest to us, positive changes may follow if we resolve to: Reconnect You’re busy. Before you know it, you’ve lost touch with friends you vowed to get together with once a month. Or you discover you haven’t talked to some of your family since the last holiday. Don’t wait for the next high school reunion, holiday, or tragic event, to get together with friends and family. Sometimes just picking up the phone to talk to a friend or family member, can shine a joyful light on a routine day. Social media makes it easier to reconnect. Although the ease of social media can work against nurturing relationships. People may feel like they can be less personal, and not bother to text or call when they can post on social media. Then when you are together, it can invade that time. Try to focus on being together instead of virtually living life on social media. Apologize Perhaps there’s someone in your life you’ve become estranged from, and by now the reason for the disagreement may seem ridiculous, or you’ve forgotten what lead to the hard feelings. It may feel like too much time has passed to apologize. Usually it hasn’t. Consider whether that difference of opinion is worth not having that person in your life. Decide how much you value that relationship. If there were more positive memories than negative, perhaps it’s time to extend that olive branch of forgiveness. It may be worth agreeing to disagree, or tolerating a conflicting opinion, to have the relief of releasing those ill feelings. Approaching that person may be easier than you thought, and they may be grateful you took the first step. If they remain bitter, it may enable you to move on and not be burdened with regret of not trying to mend that rift. Go Back to School You may have hobbies or dreams you’ve put on hold, but even if years have passed, there’s no reason why you can’t pursue those now. Learning something new may help you improve your career, or your outlook, as you find a healthy way to relieve stress or explore untapped talents. Your school days may be behind you, but if you’re feeling stagnant in your job, or your life, taking a class might reinvigorate a zest for life. These classes may be relevant to improving your career, or it may be taking dance lessons, or pursuing interests you’ve always wished you explored. Change Jobs If you spend your time counting the hours until you’re off work, or the days until your next vacation, or holiday, perhaps it’s time to consider changing jobs. January is the most popular month to change jobs, but if you’re bored, or frustrated, with your work environment, or looking for a new challenge, no particular month will help you make this decision. There are plenty of nursing jobs available, but don’t grab the first one that comes along, or you might end up in a different job but stuck in the same unhappy situation. Take the time to examine the cause of your unhappiness. If you’re unsure if a job change is what you’re looking for, seek out a mentor, or shadow a nurse on another unit, to uncover what sparked joy for the nursing profession in the first place and determine what job might reignite that flame. Don’t Wait for a New Year January 1st might seem like the best time to make resolutions for positive changes, but it’s only one day, and one month, out of the entire year. Don’t give up on finding happiness in the everyday by waiting for another Monday, or another year, to roll around. You can resolve to make positive changes anytime of the year.
  4. Maybe you’ve been preparing for years for a leadership position through education and promotions, or perhaps the opportunity was thrust upon you. Regardless of the path you took to get here, you’re now in a nursing leadership position. Even if this position is within the organization you’ve worked within for years, your priorities have changed. In addition to being responsible to your patients, you’re now responsible for your employees, as well. Even if you know all the employees, and have worked beside them, they’ll have different expectations of you in your new role. Most leadership positions have tasks that require the skills of either a manager, a leader, or both. Only you can determine how to balance the key aspects of both roles and carve a successful path as a nurse leader. Manager versus Leader It’s not necessary to be assigned a leadership position to be a leader, and all nurse leaders aren’t successful in leading their employees. You can lead from wherever you are in the organization if you know how to project qualities and characteristics that inspire and influence others. Organizations need both managers and leaders. Both roles have different priorities, and sometimes you might need to combine the skills of each. You might be required to manage budgets, inventory, staffing, and quality improvement efforts, while a leader’s duties extend beyond required tasks. Leaders must consider their employees emotions, and recognize and respect them as individuals. To gain their trust and respect, leaders must ensure their employees feel appreciated, and that they believe their efforts make a difference in the organization. Qualities of a Good Leader Often nurses are promoted into leadership positions because they’re good clinicians, critical thinkers, or since they have the most experience. But perseverance doesn’t procure leadership skills, although that doesn’t mean you can’t work to acquire or enhance these skills. Consider what qualities you’ve sought, or admire, in a leader, and how you might work to develop, or model, those behaviors. A few desired qualities in a leader might include: Presenting as a role model in a professional, and ethical manner Being fair and consistent Taking responsibility, and being accountable for their own performance Keeping the bigger picture within view Displaying passion, vision, and focus A commitment to the organization, and their employees An empathetic and caring nature Excellent communication skills Seek a nurse mentor who will provide you with honest feedback to help you determine where you fall within this spectrum, and what skills you should strive to improve. Listen to their feedback with the understanding that acquiring a nurse leadership position is only the beginning, to succeed it’s important to continue with professional development and keep abreast on potential organizational challenges. Initial Efforts Reap Rewards Without the heart and soul of a leader, you can be in a leadership role but not be successful in leading. Inspired and motivated followers who support their leader are essential to accomplishing organizational goals. Whether you’re new to the organization or adjusting to a role in which you’re now supervising your coworkers and friends, taking the time to listen, rather than making assumptions on what you believe needs done, can assist in achieving success. Initially, most new leaders can benefit from spending more time listening, than delegating tasks and acting. Take advantage of the knowledge and expertise at your fingertips, and share your expectations, as well as clarify what your employees expect from you in this new role. A leader is one person, it requires communicating and collaborating with your team, and addressing individual concerns, to earn the respect and support essential to achieving success. Find Your Peers It can be lonely at the top when you realize that although you can still be friendly, and even friends with your employees, you have a new level of responsibility and often have access to confidential information that you can’t share. It’s helpful to develop a social network, and professional relationships, with other nurse leaders to reduce feelings of isolation. Broadening your network can allow you to establish mutually beneficial relationships in which you can share best practices, knowledge, and validate that you may face the same challenges. If you’re concerned about asking for advice, or sharing experiences, with local competitors, there may be opportunities to establish trustworthy relationships online where you’re not in direct competition. These can be acquired through professional networks, or on social networks such as LinkedIn. New Challenges and Rewards A new nurse leader can be presented with many challenges. But there are also opportunities to reap rewards and gain professional satisfaction from having the chance to make a difference in your organization, and for your employees.
  5. Download allnurses Magazine Nurses work at the frontline of patient care. We collaborate and work with other healthcare professionals, but usually provide the most direct patient care. This extra time spent serving as an advocate, resource, and educator, while helping patients facilitate their healthcare journey has prompted the nursing profession to sometimes be thought of as the heart of healthcare. It’s also contributed to nurses earning the honor of being voted the most trusted profession for the 16th consecutive year in the Gallup honesty and ethics polls. Although, the nursing profession isn’t without its challenges. The shift toward quality, value-based patient care with a heightened emphasis on population care that focuses on increased health promotion and holistic patient-centered care, requires a larger, more diverse, and highly educated nursing workforce. To continue to support patients, and manage their care, nurses must resolve to seek solutions for current issues within the nursing profession. Nurses are rising to the challenge, and efforts have already begun to tackle current issues and implement positive changes for the future of the nursing profession. Issue - Nurse Staffing and Recruitment Nurse staffing shortages are not a new issue. The challenge of maintaining adequate staffing to meet the increased demand for nurses remains ongoing. Insufficient staffing can contribute to additional issues that affect job satisfaction and the provision of quality care. As one of the fastest growing healthcare fields, nursing is anticipated to grow by 15 percent from 2016 through 2026. This is faster than average according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This age-old staffing problem, and present nursing shortage, challenges us to meet this need due to a combination of factors that are increasing the demand for nursing staff. These include: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has enabled more patients to acquire access to healthcare. Some patients may have never had healthcare before, and many patients may be more diverse or have complex healthcare needs. The nursing shortage is aggravated by several. With an aging nursing workforce, and the pending retirement of baby boomers combined with an inadequate nursing faculty to educate future nurses, recruiting and retaining an adequate supply of nurses is even more challenging. A shortage of nursing faculty. The wide gap between clinical and academic salaries, and the need for additional experience and education may have contributed to the lack of adequate nursing faculty. The nursing faculty shortage has forced some universities to limit the student capacity for their nursing programs. Make a Resolution to Seek a Staffing Solution Nurses are unique in that they can choose multiple education pathways. Although it’s felt that additional education can help nurses successfully navigate increasingly complex patient needs. Advanced education can also allow nurses to take on additional roles and responsibilities within the nursing profession. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was one of the prompts to inspire The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to begin working toward making nursing education a seamless academic progression with a goal of having 80% of nurses obtain a Bachelor of Science (BSN) by 2020. They recognized the need to rethink some of the roles of the nursing profession and increase their education, to meet the needs of an aging, more diverse, patient population. This progress to transform the nursing profession continues, with the intent to improve effective care for the changing patient population. Having more BSN prepared nurses can also result in shorter hospital stays, lower healthcare costs, reduced patient mortality rates, and improved patient outcomes. Issue - Struggling with Nurse Retention Although once nurses obtain a position, the environment and culture of the organization must provide positive benefits to encourage them to stay. Organizations that focus more on recruiting nurses, and then not making efforts to make positive changes to retain them, often endure ongoing struggles to retain nurses and maintain adequate staffing levels. Retention issues that may occur due to the facility environment and culture can include: Excessive overtime Inadequate staffing levels Nurse burnout High staff turnover Scheduling dissatisfaction A wage or benefit package that isn’t competitive Inadequate time to provide patient care Nurse bullying or incivility Fear of workplace violence Inability to achieve a satisfactory work and life balance Lack of opportunities for advancement Resolve to Work to Retain the Nursing Staff Gained Poor retention affects more than the organization. Inadequate staffing can disrupt productivity, impact patient care, and decrease job satisfaction. Patient satisfaction is often linked to the quality and contentment of the nursing staff, so neglecting issues within the nursing environment can spur a vicious cycle of patient dissatisfaction and nurse turnover. Issue - Overwhelming Stressors in the Workplace The healthcare environment may be fast paced and ever changing, but it’s not normal for nurses to be constantly overwhelmed and exhausted. Passion isn’t always enough to sustain nurses through the physical and mental demands of the job, yet many neglect their own mental health and wellness. Some may even feel as if it’s a sign of weakness to admit to these feelings, or as if they should be able to handle everything on their own, get over it, or that it’s part of the job. But long shifts, working extended days in a row along with conflicting demands can lead to fatigue and burnout. Many nurses overlook the signs to slow down, implement personal preventative care measures, or seek treatment. A negative or toxic work environment may be related to some of these issues. This can result in other mental or physical issues overlooked or unnoticed such as: Burnout- The cause and the way the symptoms of burnout manifest can vary. This can lead to an increased risk of medical errors, may affect patient care, impact job satisfaction, and increase turnover. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)–Intense, ongoing stressors combined with staffing issues may leave little to no time to process a distressing event at work. Bullying, harassment, and incivility- The RNnetwork survey indicates that 45 percent of nurses report being harassed or bullied by peers. Repeated, unwanted harmful actions intended to humiliate or offend the recipient can infect staff with fear and humiliation, decrease productivity, increase absenteeism and increase turnover. Alarm fatigue- The multitude of devices meant to assist and alert staff to patient needs can result in sensory overload and desensitization. Their purpose is defeated when nurses ignore, overlook, or are unable to differentiate critical or routine alarms. Alarm fatigue can become counteractive to enhancing patient safety. Resolve to Commit to a Supportive Environment The way we treat each other is as important as the care provided. Nurses should respectfully support each other as professionals and encourage others to adhere to the advice they give to their patients and realize that mental health can be just as important as physical health to provide safe care. Nurses are less likely to encourage others to enter the nursing field if they aren’t engaged, or don’t feel supported, or appreciated, in the workforce. Promote a professional environment that realizes value and shares goals and success to attract and maintain the best employees by: Recognize and hold people accountable by rejecting negative behavior and reinforcing what behaviors are unacceptable and detrimental Align a positive atmosphere to patient outcomes to attract and retain staff who support each other and the organization Encourage and model clear, calm communication that’s mindful of volume and body language Nurture a culture of mental and physical wellness and invest in individual health needs Seek evidenced-based practice to develop an approach for alarms to perform appropriately and reduce false alarms and risks accompanying alarm fatigue Issue - Increased Risks of Workplace Violence & Job Hazards Performing procedures which can cause discomfort or pain for patients that may be fearful or confused can put nurses at risk for workplace violence. The risk of physical or verbal abuse from patients, or family members, can be exacerbated by inadequate staffing and can contribute to an undesirable, unsafe, work environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that from 2002-2013 the rate of serious workplace violence was 4 times greater in healthcare than private industry. This may be even higher since many may not report because they don’t want to lose time, think reporting won’t make a difference, or that violence is part of the job. The highest rates of violence usually occur in the emergency room and psychiatric units due to substance abuse, cognitive impairment, waking from anesthesia, fear or frustration. This risk for violence for nurses is in addition to the environmental and physical risks associated with the job due to injuries from patient care, exposure to bloodborne pathogens or needle sticks. The increased age of much of the nursing workforce, inadequate staffing hectic pace, fatigue and long hours, can result in decreased alertness and awareness and increase the risk of injury. Resolve to Reduce the Risk Education and awareness of situations with increased risk and incorporating a zero tolerance for violence can assist with proactively addressing these issues. Other methods to work to decrease the risk of violence and injury include: Emphasize the importance of reporting and documenting Report and gather data regarding incidents and risks Set a zero-tolerance policy standard Develop an expected code of conduct Build awareness of the importance of ergonomics to reduce injuries Educate on awareness and how to identify and address if there is a risk for performing safe care Remove items in the patient care areas that could be used as a weapon Ensure there is adequate lighting and an awareness of available exits in a crisis Encourage clear patient communication on what to expect for their treatment, and wait times Alert staff if patients have a history of violence Issue - Meeting the Needs of Diverse Patient Populations The patient population is becoming increasingly diverse. Striving to increase diversity in nursing staff, and education on cultural awareness can assist with improving cultural competency. Knowledge of cultural differences, expectations and how to identify personal assumptions, can assist nurses to reduce communication and cultural barriers to care. This could potentially lead to better patient compliance and outcomes. Many patients are reassured to have a caregiver from the same ethnic or racial background. They may be able to better understand cultural preferences, communicate more effectively and appreciate the patient’s perspective. This can help in gaining patient trust and confidence in the care and increase patient satisfaction. Resolve to Educate and Incorporate Cultural Awareness Patients depend on nurses to adhere to their professional obligation to make healthcare decisions that balance treatment options and patient wishes. The nurse may not agree with the patient’s beliefs, or may struggle with conflicting personal values, but should still strive to provide care in the client’s best interest. Cultural awareness can help the nurse understand and support the patient’s unique care needs even if they conflict with the nurse’s personal beliefs. Education and understanding on cultural diversity can increase awareness of personal attitudes, and beliefs, and allow nurses to provide fair treatment to patients regardless of their economic status, race, religion, ethnicity or gender identification. Factors such as the changes in the economic environment, stable employment options, and the variety of settings and opportunities for advancement have played a role in increasing diversity in nursing: This has also influenced males and other minority groups to pursue nursing. This may help ensure the nursing profession can be sensitive to cultural specific needs while providing care for diverse populations. Developing and supporting a more diverse, culturally aware, ethical environment may increase the nurse’s comfort in speaking up to act as a patient advocate and provide culturally appropriate care. Issue - Blending Generations in the Workforce Nurses delaying retirement, and an influx of new nurses, has resulted in blended nursing generations in the workforce. Generational differences and efforts to work coordinately can result in conflict and job dissatisfaction. Although individuals can’t be classified by their generation, since each person may have their own unique characteristics and expectations, most are influenced by the period they grew up in and experiences they’ve encountered. Generational differences can affect thoughts and perspectives and impact the ability to work coordinately. The generation we grew up in can also influence: How we interact Preferred work and life balance Methods of communication Values and beliefs Significance of education and training Desire, and preferred method, to be recognized for work performance Preferred management style Don’t Overlook Technological Challenges Today’s nursing workforce must be both clinically skilled and technologically perceptive by balancing hands-on patient care with technology. This can prove challenging with blended workforce generations. Each generation, and individual may have varied comfort levels, and views, regarding technology. Some may be challenged to learn new processes, while others harbor fear and uncertainty. Resolve to Work to Embrace Generational Differences Incorporating technology into the workplace can provide opportunities for education and reverse mentoring between generations. If effective methods of learning are considered, opportunities can be created to develop leadership skills for new nurses. New generations may be more accustomed to utilizing technology, while other generations may be accustomed to relying heavily on touch, sight and smell to gauge the patient’s medical condition. Both methods of patient care have positive benefits. The challenge is to create a balance that doesn’t completely rely on technology while maintaining the human element in nursing care. Ways to strive to embrace generational differences include: Recognize the unique characteristics and expectations of each generation Identify traits shared between nurses of all generations to foster teamwork and collaboration Work toward a sense of purpose and overall goals Focus on expectations, rather than outcomes, when approaching tasks Technology and scheduling software can be beneficial to reduce paperwork and to work toward a better work-life balance, reduce overtime and the risk of short staffing. But quality, knowledgeable nursing staff must be available for technology to be effective. Issue - Striving for Safe Staffing Levels Staffing is one common element that can affect multiple nursing issues. Inadequate staffing contributes to more than nursing retention. As patients shift out of hospitals for better reimbursement, it can mean shorter stays with patients with more complex needs. Mandatory overtime, long shifts, or extended workday stretches can affect the ability to provide safe patient care. It can also contribute to: Increased fatigue and rate of injury Medication errors Length of patient stay Patient mortality Nurse burnout Patient dissatisfaction Resolve to Seek and Support Staffing Solutions Staffing issues have not gone unrecognized. The American Nurses Association (ANA)recognizes the significance of safe staffing and has implemented surveys, incorporated research and data collection to work toward positive legislative changes. This exploration of optimal staffing levels hopes to emphasize the importance of nurse and patio ratios and the effect on patient outcomes. Hospital patient levels are constantly fluctuating. Staffing levels are dependent on patient acuity, complexity of care, the number of admissions, discharges, transfers, and the skill level and expertise required. Nurses have the best judgement on staffing levels and how to best manage flexible staffing while supporting each other. Working toward mandated staffing levels may help reduce the risk of patient harm and improve nurse job satisfaction. Find Our Voice for Ourselves and Our Patients The role of the nurse continues to grow to meet the complex demands of the healthcare system. Nurses need to become change agents and have a voice for themselves, and their patients, to work toward being full partners in redesigning healthcare. Nurse’s voices are important and can contribute the expertise acquired from education and experience across many healthcare settings and specialties. Nurses Can Get Involved by: Volunteering and participating in committees Continuing with personal and professional growth and education Becoming a mentor to: Appreciate, and explain, the history of why tasks are done the way they are, and to take a critical look for areas for improvement Share expertise, guide and educate Inspire and empower future nurses and nurse leaders Gain a feeling of ownership in the success of the organization Bridge generational gaps by comprehending the strengths of different generations Contribute toward a positive workplace culture Display a willingness to embrace change Acquire a fresh perspective on the newest and latest trends Nurses Voices Carry Nurses can make a difference by taking ownership of the nursing profession and committing to change the culture and status quo by getting involved within their organization, their community and contributing their voice to public policy. Nurses are generally underrepresented when major healthcare decisions occur. The Nurses on Boards Coalition is making strides to correct that with a goal of having 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020. To begin acquiring a broader strategic mindset nurses can: Start prepping mid-career to prepare Work with a mentor, or other members of the board Take courses on presentation skills and public speaking to build confidence Recognize that nurses have valuable contributions Serving on a board can be personally and professionally rewarding. It may also provide opportunities to enhance professional networks, impact public and community health, and be on the forefront of strategic planning. If nurses become a voting member in decision-making roles in healthcare they can: Have a seat in decision making Lead conversations Hold other board members accountable for decisions Be the voice for nurses and patients Bring the patient perspective Resolutions for Future Change The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation(RWJF) initiative, The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, emphasized improving access to care, collaboration, diversity, healthier communities, nurse leadership and education. We’ve made great strides toward these goals, but continue to have more work to do. Many of the issues in nursing are interrelated and ongoing. But by making small steps, and increasing involvement within, and outside, organizations, nurses can work to find their voice to make a better future for our patients and ourselves. The public continues to place their trust in the nursing profession to provide compassionate, honest and ethical care, and nurses are honored to provide it. Recognizing the contributions and impact of nurses can help us realize that together we can lead positive changes for the nursing profession and lift each other up for future success. Article Sources 5 of the Biggest Issues Nurses Face Today Current Issues in Nursing and Healthcare Focus on Self-Care Could Help Prevent Nurse Burnout HealthLeaders Top 10 Nursing Stories of 2018 Low Nurse Staffing Increases Risk for Inpatient Death Our Nation Needs More Nurses on Boards Ready to Serve The Case for a Nurse Trustee Update on Future of Nursing Report: Are We There Yet?
  6. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    When It's Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Daisy, I hope this helps make your holiday season more joyful.
  7. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    When It's Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Months before the holidays arrive we start getting bombarded with advertisements and movies depicting the perfect holiday scene. These fictional people are happy, and stressors are wrapped up while everyone exchanges beautiful gifts complete with a handmade bow. Most of us enjoy indulging in these scenes, and envision trying to recreate the perfect holiday depicted by the media and television. Even if we know it's not real, we may desperately want it to be. But instead we're scheduled to work, or the kids get sick, or we can't afford what's on their Christmas list. We're overwhelmed with too much to do with too little time, money, sleep, and patience-but with plenty of patients who need our attention. It's hard to give one-hundred percent at work when we're preoccupied, or resentful that we're working and we can end up dreading, instead of enjoying the holiday season. When You Feel Like a Scrooge Although most of us realize that people require healthcare every day of the year, we may not have considered how a nursing career can affect our personal life for many holidays to come. We may understand the need to work, but it can be disheartening when we end up missing out on holiday traditions and family gatherings. We can spend time being resentful because someone else got the day off, or we were called in to work, or feeling inferior because we're too exhausted to keep up with what we feel the holidays require. Or we can try to change our perspective. Attitude can make or break the holiday. Often the holidays repeat this same stressful rollercoaster year after year. Each year we think it's going to be different. That this will be the year that everything is perfect. We know the holidays are coming, yet we haven't tried to change our expectations or attitude, and the outcome remains the same. We end up bringing ourselves down, which can lead to not being present for our patients when they may need us the most. They may be spending the holiday season ill, or without their families. If we take the time to plan and prepare for more than our shopping list, we can begin taking control of holiday expectations. Sleigh Holiday Challenges Even with holidays surprises, most of the challenges during this season are the same year after year. If we try to work the holiday around our work schedule, instead of trying to work around the holiday, we can determine priorities and let go of unnecessary obligations that leave us exhausted and overwhelmed. Unfortunately stress usually accompanies the holiday season, but if we anticipate some of these stressors, we might be better prepared to adjust our expectations and response. A Lack of Goodwill Staff, families, and patients feel the extra strain during the holidays and often nurses are on the receiving end of their frustrations. The gift of extra patience may help in working with those that are sick and increase your gratitude for the good health of family and friends. Patients who have no family may see you as a substitute, taking the time to talk about their holiday traditions can allow you to attempt to recreate a small part for them. So, So, So Many Social Obligations Gatherings can be numerous and overwhelming when you're trying to be everywhere and do everything. Make priorities early so you can declare that your schedule is already full. Crowds usually mean stress. The benefit of working different shifts, or having varied days off, means you can consider shopping alternate hours or days, or avoid it by shopping online. Consider changing the day, or time, you celebrate with family if you're working. Make new traditions that are less stressful, or ones that aren't tied to a certain day or time that may not always match your schedule. Some Might be Having a Blue Christmas While many of us struggle to fit everything in, others may suffer from social isolation. The holiday season often brings feelings of sadness and grief for many who have lost loved ones. Look for signs of depression in patients and family, and if necessary, refer for treatment. Taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts. Plan for time to relax to deal with the hustle and bustle of the holiday. You Don't Have to be Santa Claus Overindulging in food, alcohol, and overspending our holiday budget can result in kicking any healthy habits to the curb. Try to recognize financial and personal triggers to be mindful of eating in moderation, and sticking to a budget to prevent January regrets. The pressure to make goals and resolutions while completely overwhelmed-as if to right all the wrongs in the past month-can be distressing. Instead plan small, monthly goals to avoid unrealistic pressures. Memories Aren't Scheduled It's not easy working in healthcare, and especially over the holiday season when we feel like we're missing out, or not doing enough. But if we think of our favorite holiday memories, they aren't usually about specific gifts, or attached to one day. The best memories are often unexpected and priceless. How Do You Deal with Holiday Stress?
  8. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    When the New Workforce Is the Old Workforce

    Many of us begin planning for retirement early in our career with most of our concerns evolving around financial planning. Although it's essential to plan for adequate retirement funds, it's just as important to consider the psychological adjustment that can occur with retirement. Although most of us never stop being a nurse, often we've attached some of our identity to our work. After spending years in nursing, retirement can bring feelings of loss, although many don't admit this. Society has conditioned us to believe that these are the years we've been waiting for, so it may feel wrong to express unhappiness or loneliness. You may feel as if you've lost a part of yourself, or realize you'd tied most of your social network to work. The nursing shortage has contributed to a demand for nursing staff. This may open additional opportunities for flexible, seasonal, or float positions that can allow for a gradual adjustment to retirement. Shifting into Retirement It might become apparent that although you've prepared financially for living expenses, those travel and other expenditures that you've put off until retirement are more expensive than you've budgeted. Maintaining a little nursing work may help fund your freedom to pursue your plans. Choosing to remain, or return, to nursing in a new or reduced role can help keep your mind sharp while allowing you to cash in on your skills. Your attitude about work might change as well when you choose to go to work, instead of feeling as if you must go. Take a Turn in Your Career You've spent countless years advancing your career through education and acquiring new skills, but long shifts, or too many days in a row, can be draining. There may be ways to explore new roles that allow you to utilize that clinical expertise with less physical strain. This could be an opportunity to transition into other positions or try something new such: Teaching - For schools or adult learning centers, as a wellness consultant, or by providing education on First Aid, or a nurse aide instructor Freelance healthcare writer - Keep current on new technology and changes in healthcare by researching and writing healthcare articles Travel nursing - Explore some of those retirement destinations Go PRN - Consider opportunities that provide more flexibility such as a substitute school nurse or in a casual, or PRN position to retain, or gain, an area of nursing expertise Back to school - If you've reduced your workload, and the kids are grown, perhaps now you have the time to pursue that extra education you've put off This is only a fraction of the different ways you can continue to utilize your nursing skills. The important thing is to explore what motivates you, or what career goals you may have put on hold. Retirement may signify the end of one career, but it may be the beginning of a new one. Put Recruiting in Reverse Many employers have always valued the expertise of their older workers, but the desire to recruit or retain them has become more prevalent with the nursing shortage. Rather than mourning the wealth of knowledge of a nurse nearing retirement, some employers are exploring ways to be more flexible to accommodate the needs of these workers. Such as by: Finding ways to work around the nurse who is semi-retired and wants to spend the winter out of state can prove beneficial when schedules are tight during summer vacations. Developing roles in orientation, training, or mentoring are often great ways to enhance the onboarding of new employees while allowing the experienced nurse to share their wealth of knowledge. The Road to Retirement Retirement doesn't have to be an all or nothing venture. Whether financial needs inspire you to keep your foot in the workplace, or you just enjoy working, consider that there are other opportunities available rather than feeling obligated to the same old job if it's left you uninspired. That opportunity may only mean reducing your work schedule or exploring a different role. But that small change might make the difference and allow you to take advantage of the years you've invested in your career. Do You Plan to Switch Gears in Your Nursing Career?
  9. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Banish Negative and Self-Destructive Thoughts

    I'm glad this article resonates with so many people and hopeful that it helps to remind us to be kind to ourselves.
  10. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Banish Negative and Self-Destructive Thoughts

    All day, every day, we analyze each thing that occurs with our inner thoughts to determine our view, which can make or break our day depending on our perception. We spend more time in the company of our thoughts than with anyone else. Isn't it time to work on a better relationship and start being nicer to ourselves? It's not always what happens that influences our self-talk, but our interpretation of it. If that inner self-talk is irrational and untrue, we can develop unrealistic expectations, damage our self-esteem, or undermine our performance. Many things are out of our control, yet that doesn't stop us from blaming or criticizing ourselves. Sometimes we say demeaning or degrading things to ourselves that we'd never say to another person. This may be over petty things such as if we didn't do something, forgot something, or made a mistake. Often, it's due to holding ourselves to unrealistic standards. This ongoing negativity can derail enjoying our successes, or it may escalate into something self-destructive. Notice Negative Thinking We are a product of our thinking, and eventually, we may come to believe what we tell ourselves. Negative self-talk is usually a learned behavior, but we may have practiced it for so long that we're not sure where we learned it. Negativity may have become an automatic response. Our thoughts can hurt us, but when we are caregivers, we have the potential to transmit this negative energy to others. A few examples of negative thinking include: - Unrealistic expectations that leave us feeling guilty, hopeless or overwhelmed when things don't meet what we anticipated. - Recurring negative thoughts that keep us stuck in old patterns instead of allowing us to move forward. - A method of thinking that results in us never being satisfied since we view each task with an all or nothing mentality. - Looking for problems when they don't exist instead of realizing we don't always need to solve a problem because maybe there isn't one. - We assume we know what others expect, or that they know what we desire. When we don't want to ask for help, we don't always receive it. This may leave us angry or resentful. - Any change is impossible. We cling to what we're comfortable with and avoid focusing on the positive things that may accompany change, or we choose the easiest option even if it's not the best one. - Envy poisons our thoughts and we continuously compare ourselves to others and reduce opportunities for happiness. - Overthinking every situation, which can result in unnecessary stress. Break Through the Barrier Sometimes the only barrier to reducing negativity is in our mind. Recognizing that there's an opportunity to choose negative or positive thinking may help silence negative thoughts by removing their power. Our thoughts keep us stuck in patterns of negative thinking, which can lead to self-destructive thoughts or behaviors. These could include things such as making the same mistakes, continuously second-guessing ourselves, grasping for immediate gratification without considering long-term consequences, or being overly critical. Steps to Reduce Negative Thinking: Develop an awareness of negative thoughts so you can recognize them and take steps to reduce or eliminate them. Say the word, stop, or reword thoughts into something more positive. Find the silver lining, the exception, the one good thing in the situation and focus on being grateful. Fill your life with activities that you enjoy and friends that are positive influences. Focus on being in the present moment through deep breathing, affirmations, positive visualizations, or inspirational books or podcasts that assist in developing mindfulness. Make a deadline for decisions rather than dwelling on them and allowing them to control your thoughts. Fake it until you make it by acting how you want to feel. Sometimes negative or self-destructive thoughts are more than we can manage on our own, or they could lead to self-destructive behaviors. It may be necessary to seek additional help from a mental health professional if these thoughts lead to self-destructive behaviors such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs, excessive spending, getting stuck in bad relationships, intense ongoing sadness, or losing the desire for things we once enjoyed. Be Kind to Ourselves We're usually aware of the benefits of being nice to others, and how unkind words can produce long-lasting hurt. Perhaps if we tried to treat ourselves as kind as we strive to treat others, we would be able to reduce negative thoughts and have a more positive outlook that might benefit us, as well as those we care for. How Do You Halt Negative Thoughts?
  11. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Nurses Can Be at Risk for PTSD

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is usually associated with active and retired military members, and although they may consist of the majority of those suffering from PTSD, they're not the only group at risk. PTSD can develop after someone has experienced, or witnessed, a traumatic or terrifying event, or it could be from an ongoing, long-term trauma. This could include a physical or sexual assault, an accident, war, a natural disaster, or the unexpected death of a loved one. Other groups that could develop PTSD include the families of victims, children, and rescue and emergency personnel such as nurses. As nurses, and especially the nurses who work in the emergency department, we routinely deal with occupational stressors such as violence, trauma, and death that can put us at an increased risk for PTSD. While we're accustomed to screening our patients, we should remember to also assess families of victims, our peers, and ourselves for PTSD. Be Aware of PTSD Symptoms Nurses can experience intense ongoing stressors. These may be accompanied by staffing issues that leave little to no time to process a distressing event that may occur during work. Many nurses who experience PTSD think they should be able to cope with it on their own, or that they'll get over it, or believe that dealing with recurring, overwhelming stress is just part of the job. Some nurses may try to hide, deny, or not recognize the symptoms of PTSD. Or they may imagine that admitting to a need for treatment would be viewed as a weakness. This can lead to delaying, or not seeking treatment, or mistaking the symptoms for other medical conditions. PTSD rarely occurs on its own. Burnout syndrome, substance abuse, depression, or other psychiatric disorders, often coexist with PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD could be delayed in appearing and can vary. Emotionally there might be feelings of guilt, anxiety, anger, denial, grief, and fear. These emotions can display in an array of behavioral symptoms such as: Intense fear, and feelings of helplessness Flashbacks, or mentally re-experiencing the event Ongoing anxiety Self-destructive behaviors Hyperarousal, or an exaggerated startle response Withdrawal from others, or avoidance of things that remind them of the event Nightmares, insomnia, or other sleep disturbances Emotional outbursts or other cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, feeling disoriented or having difficulty concentrating Stress vs. PTSD PTSD was once classified as an anxiety disorder, but it's now considered a trauma and stress-related disorder. It differs from common stress reactions because of the length of duration and how it may result in a disruption of daily life tasks and relationships. Nurses who have endured a prior trauma, have a preexisting psychiatric disorder, or lack a social support system could be at an increased risk. Nurses suffering from PTSD may notice symptoms: That persist for at least four weeks, instead of disappearing hours, or days, after an event Which may disrupt the ability to interact socially, or at work May occur long after an event when something occurs that triggers a memory, or a patient reminds them of a prior traumatic experience That can affect quality of life, the ability be productive at work, and to produce positive clinical outcomes for their patients It's Never Too Late for Treatment Education should be provided regarding how PTSD is related to overwhelming stress, and not a personal weakness, as this may be beneficial in encouraging nurses to seek treatment. PTSD can become a chronic condition and the treatment is usually gradual and ongoing. Nurses, and nurse leaders should be mindful of following up after an incident. Or recommend that a co-worker, or family member, consider critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) if they've experienced, or witnessed, a traumatic event. CISD is most effective if offered within 24-72 hours after the trauma. By offering a safe place to express anger, grief or sorrow over a traumatic event, it can assist in coping with the potential physical and psychological effects associated with traumatic events. Each individual's experience is unique, and the best treatment may vary with trauma-focused psychotherapies, medications, or other methods specific to the individual's needs to assist in processing coping with the trauma. Raising Awareness of PTSD It's never too late to begin treatment. Increasing the awareness of the prevalence of PTSD, the varied populations that it can affect, and the symptoms to be aware of, may help to inspire nurses, and others, to seek treatment.
  12. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Are Your Older Patients at Risk for Isolation?

    My area is also pretty rural, so we encounter this frequently. It is so sad.
  13. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Is Your Nursing Career in a Rut?

    I'm glad that you were able to get out of a rut and that it has worked out well for you. That's wonderful!
  14. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Is Your Nursing Career in a Rut?

    After years of nursing school, and then choosing what seemed like the perfect job, sometimes it's hard to consider that your job may have lost its luster and that it might be time for a change. That change could be as drastic as a new job, or perhaps as little as joining a committee, taking a class, or looking for a transfer. We all have days when we're feeling bored or unmotivated, but if you're feeling like this often, and a few days off doesn't alleviate that feeling, perhaps your nursing career is in a rut. Most people find comfort in familiarity, and may hope that something will change, but often we must make a change to put the passion back in our career. Check for Signs of a Rut Does it seem like you're going to the same job, with the same people, doing the same tasks all the time? It might be hard to pinpoint why you feel unhappy. Perhaps it's just a phase, or a work project that has you feeling this way. Reflect on the source of your dissatisfaction or lack of fulfillment. You might be in a rut if: You get a sick feeling Monday morning, or the day before Jealousy stirs when others are excited about their job You've lost your pride in your work When people ask about your job you change the subject You feel angry and as if you're stuck in your job You secretly browse job listings, but have no idea what you're looking for Company events or trainings that you used to look forward to now feel like an obligation If this sounds like you, your work may start to suffer as you become more disengaged. If you're not committing time or energy to tasks and just go through the motions, it can be physically and mentally exhausting. Most of us want to be challenged and learn, but if we're feeling tired and lethargic then we might believe it's not worth the effort. Determine the Source of Dissatisfaction Even if it's a great job, and you're successful with what you do, you might have lost that loving feeling somewhere along your career path. Before jumping at the first available opportunity, examine what is dissatisfying to avoid getting stuck in another position that may quickly become unfulfilling. Identify what you like and dislike about your job such as: Are you happy with your schedule, or do you feel run ragged, or as if you lack time off? What is your favorite part of the day, or the tasks that bring you the most enjoyment? Are there opportunities to learn, or do you feel bored, or unchallenged? Is the work environment, or culture, unsatisfactory? Do you feel like you're suffering from burnout, or compassion fatigue? Do You Have an Itch to Switch Jobs? If you're ready to move on and find a job you're passionate about, begin by taking time to clean up your personal and professional brand. If your unhappiness has leaked onto social media you don't want a potential employer gaining a bad impression if they stumble across your complaints or blatant unhappiness. Then consider what you're looking for in a job and how it aligns with your strengths and weaknesses. Consider if a hobby, or other passion, can be incorporated to create a more satisfying position Update your resume and LinkedIn profile with new accomplishments and have your cover letter ready to go Consider if you need additional education for the role you desire, it may be as little as taking online classes, or listening to Podcasts, to gaining a new certification or degree Attend available networking events Let friends, family, and colleagues know you're looking for opportunities Can You Rediscover Your Love? Maybe you're unhappy in your job, but perhaps there are ways to put excitement back in your position so it doesn't feel like a grind. Challenge the status quo by shifting your mindset. Pretend you're new to your job and ask questions and make suggestions instead of accepting how things have always been done. Other ways to inject passion, and change your role into something you enjoy more, including creating your own opportunities by: Looking for a mentor, or volunteering to be one Getting to know colleagues better Finding a better fit with a position transfer Asking for more responsibility Discovering interests outside of work to stimulate your mind Get Unstuck from Your Rut Most of us spend a large part of our day, and our lives, at work so it's important to find something that doesn't make us miserable. Each of us has different things that bring us joy. Only we can determine what makes us happy, or unhappy, in our job. Sometimes it takes devoting time to consider just what drew us to the position in the first place, and what's driving us away now.
  15. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Are Your Older Patients at Risk for Isolation?

    As we age, most of us experience cognitive and physical losses. This could include chronic health issues that impede our ability to complete everyday tasks, or ones due to sensory issues with hearing, speech, or mobility. As nurses, we're often assessing for losses associated with physical decline that may impede the patient's ability to live independently, although many of our patients may be affected by losses that may not be visible. The loss of family and friends through death or distance, the physical inability to continue with hobbies or activities that once brought joy, or retirement from a career are just a few things that can take a toll on our patient's perception of self-worth, or result in increased isolation. Isolation can contribute to poor mental health, cognitive decline, a lower quality of life, and potentially premature death. Studies have discovered links between social isolation and depression and indicated that older patients that suffer from isolation may result in increased significant health risks. Taking the time to ask specific questions, educating family and caregivers, and offering alternate methods of socialization may help identify, or reduce, an older patient's feelings of isolation. Isolation vs. Loneliness Although studies may not always differentiate the terms isolation and loneliness, and occasionally the terms may be used interchangeably, they're not the same. Someone can be socially isolated but not feel lonely, while someone may not live alone, or live in a personal care home, or have a large social network and still suffer from loneliness. Loneliness is more subjective and can be related to someone's perception, a fear of rejection, or feelings of low self-worth, and can correlate with depression. Regardless of whether someone is at risk, or suffering, from social isolation or loneliness, both can contribute to higher risks for mortality. The lack of social relationships has been determined to potentially: Increase mortality risk factors to be comparable to those from smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity Increase risks of elder abuse Result in delayed discharge, or increased costs of care due to lack of family support Detecting Feelings of Isolation A patient may not admit to feelings of isolation, and their distress may not be obvious. If adult children or caregivers don't live nearby, encourage them to get to know their parent's friends and neighbors. Request that they alert them if they notice changes or unusual behavior in their older loved ones. Ask the patient about: Their perception of emotional closeness to family and friends Recent losses Whether they ever feel left out, isolated, or that they lack companionship Be sure to be alert for other signs and symptoms of other mental health risks of depression, or suicidal ideation, and treat or refer appropriately. Social Solutions Educate patients and family about methods to decrease isolation through use of technology to stay in touch through phone calls, email or Skype. Don't assume that all seniors aren't comfortable with using technology. The wide variety of available tools and technology can help to remotely enhance social support for patients. Work on changing maladaptive perceptions by encouraging reminiscing about the patient's personal accomplishments, and suggest ways to continue to gain feelings of accomplishment or purpose. Look for ways to highlight, or share their knowledge. Consider the patient's interest and encourage them, or their family, to explore other methods to decrease feelings of isolation or an increased sense of purpose such as by: Adopting a pet that meets the patient's physical capabilities to care for such as a fish, bird, dog, or other animal that can help provide an increased sense of purpose Revive a love of gardening with a small indoor herb garden, or a fairy flower garden Becoming a foster grandparent and serve as a mentor, role model or a friend to children with exceptional needs to share their experience, hobbies, and compassion Volunteering to gain a more positive outlook through their contributions Virtual Senior Centers offer seniors the opportunity to learn, connect and participate online using webcams when they can't physically travel to a senior center Adopt-a-Grandparent is a program where seniors in assisted living facilities or nursing homes are paired with a teenager or college student to experience co-mentoring Enhancing Those Golden Years We may often speak of the golden years without considering that they may be tarnished with feelings of loneliness or isolation that can result in higher mortality risks. Educating our patients and family about increasing awareness of isolation, and potential ways to decrease this, might help make those golden years a little less lonely. Do You Have Suggestions to Reduce Senior Isolation?