Aging is the process of growing old or a frequent decline in the age-related fitness mechanism of an individual. The rapid increase in the geriatric population with time has created a need for arranged care for the population to improve their life (Cowgill, 2014). Nurses need to focus on the age-related aspects of wellbeing based on physiology theories of aging for improved health outcomes. Nurses are the direct caregivers and set a road map for providing holistic care to elder populations by planning proper care interventions (Grady, 2014). It is the responsibility of the caregivers to work in collaboration and make their life positive and healthy. This essay will reflect the general problems faced by the geriatric population-based on evidence-based practices and the role of nurses and other healthcare workers in understanding these issues and solving them for effective care.
With the growing medical advancements and efforts in medical health, the increasing geriatric population has become a dramatic demography worldwide. The World Health Organization states that the increase in the number of the geriatric population would reach up to 2 billion by 2050 (WHO, 2020). This rising statistics has created pressure on healthcare workers in aged care to provide holistic care. Lathika (2014) stated in the randomized controlled trial study that in general terms of care, caregivers focus on the physical health, however, the psychological health and wellbeing hold an equal importance. Ageing is considered as the process of growing old and disturbs the physical and mental status, which consequently creates a drastic impact on their psychological health as well. Steven et al (2014) in the study of aged care concludes that healthcare workers must understand the aging theories for improving their life quality and creating a positive health environment The social theory of aging holds an important space in the geriatric population which includes activity and continuity theories as well. It also describes the changes in social life with growing age in elder people (Lathika, 2014). The older population lacks interest in social gatherings and therefore making their life boring and less interactive, however, the healthcare workers must not link their life baring rather understand their hobbies and interests to engage them in social gatherings for creating healthy social relationships (Lathika, 2014). For example, if a person is interested in gardening, the caregiver should engage the person in the same which serves as rehabilitation intervention.
Steven et al (2014) in the descriptive research study also stated that with aging, the psychological behavior and the mental attitude in elder persons start degenerating and the age-specific crisis continues to rise. Aging triggers various diseases in the elderly and sensory impairment is one of important issue faced in aged care and makes them vulnerable to different disabilities. Older people experience loss of hearing owing to sensory or cochlear loss and eventually lose their understanding in fast speech and unfamiliar voices. The impairment of hearing sense makes them vulnerable as they find difficulty in communication and cannot respond effectively (Steven et al., 2014). Healthcare must understand the theory of development where they arrange education programs and training and make them understand the importance of hearing, sensory loss, and the ways to solve the associated issues. Healthcare workers should focus to communicate in their native language and wait for their replies for effective communication (Lathika, 2014). Caregivers must implement healthy interventions to support and provide arranged care to elder persons in aged care (Lathika, 2014). The foremost need is to highlight the physical functioning as the physical dependable and the fear of dependence creates a major factor of stress in their lives. Therefore, the development of community-based activities encourages independence in addition, caregivers can initiate cognitive-based therapy to minimize stress and promote a sense of wellbeing in the geriatric population.
Kowald and Kirkwood (2016) in the systematic review states that the aging process is related to the organ specific changes as described in the system-based aging theories and include immune theories. This theory of aging states a single human body controls and maintains different organ systems and adapts them with the changing environment The neurological changes with aging are natural and affect normal functioning, growth, and development but also affect those organs that maintain survival through adaptations. It means, the life cycle is regulated by a biological clock which undergoes sequential patterns, driven by endocrine and nervous systems (Steven et al. 2014). Aging leads to the neurodegenerative process which results in a failed response to external stimuli and poor co-ordination. During aging, the acute exposure to stress conditions owing to biological, social, or emotional stimuli will lose the capacity in elder people to "disease of adaption". (Kowald &Kirkwood, 2016). The response to stimuli is regulated by the hypothalamus which regulates various neural and cerebral functions defining the behavior like eating and fear. Lifestyle modification is one of the best ways to promote mental behavior and helps in co-ordination in the elder persons. Caregivers must interact in an effective way and understand their low response to a stimulus for improving their life quality. They must first acknowledge their eating preferences and the associated anaphylaxis by applying their theoretical and practical knowledge.
Franceschi et al (2016) in the research explains that the weakening of the body owing to aging cannot be denied and the caregivers must incorporate supportive interventions including cognitive behavior and neural therapy which play a vital role in creating a positive approach towards the negative environment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy showed effective results when given for a long duration and enhanced the patient output, However, the role of nurses is not much evident although they can highlight the adoption of these practices to provide emotional support to the elder patients. Caregivers can improve the quality of life in the geriatric population by keeping track of everyday practices (Lathika, 2014). Also, patients with early symptoms like anxiety and depression will manifest dementia in the later phase of their life. Old age is an expected factor associated with dementia and the rising number of dementia cases will create a burden on the caregivers to choose the intervention which even also makes caregivers aggressive (Franceschi et al., 2016). To solve the concern, caregivers must focus to understand the aging theories related to neurodegenerative processes which make the persons less active and less responsive rather than arguing with them on general issues. Non-pharmaceutical approaches for managing dementia are considered the best intervention compared to other psychological therapies for improving life quality in an older population.
Candice (2018) in the systematic review explain the modern theory of aging also known as wear and tear theory, explains certain genes are responsible for aging which eventually deregulate with age and creates psychological harm in the geriatric population, where people lack to express their thoughts and views. In some situations the caregivers implement restrictive interventions including medication or anti-depressive drugs for managing aggression without their consent which imposes unethical restrain and can be psychologically traumatizing to elder patients (Steele et al., 2019). The nurses’ lacking skills for managing aggressive patients can impact these restrictive interventions by increasing the harm to a receiver (Royal Commission, 2019). The psychological harm is generally related to the emotional, spiritual dimensions affecting their beliefs and values. Candice (2018) in the study focuses on Fisher’s theory of aging which explains it the fear of declining health and low socioeconomic status in elder people residing in aged care is one of the major reasons behind stress and low confidence. Moreover, Fisher's theory explores that the second most important stress-causing factor can result from the early death of a spouse which makes it difficult to cope with the changing environment. Eventually, they become adapted to changing life like living without their spouse.
Older people should spend more time in their habits rather than spending time alone although. Although, this is an individual choice whether to spend time in social activities or remain socially inactive. It has been proved that the physical deterioration with age-related diseases will impact the psychological health and wellbeing of older individuals as well. Kunlin Jin (2010) supports the biological theories of aging, programmed, and error theory. The programmed theory will define aging will include all the stages of life starting from birth to death in a systematic pattern while the error theory defines the cells of the body degenerates with time and age. These patterns of life are controlled by gene expression which is affected by various environmental factors. The nurse must promote healthcare services among the geriatric population to minimize age-related stress and depression.
The elderly go through a lot of physical and psychological changes during their later phase and therefore it is the responsibility of healthcare workers to properly plan the medical interventions for their safety. Healthcare workers must work in collaboration to ensure that their life is productive, positive, and healthy. It is the responsibility of the caregivers to work in collaboration and make their life positive and healthy. Caregivers must implement healthy interventions to support and provide arranged care to the elder persons in aged care. Nurses need to focus on the age-related aspects of wellbeing based on the theoretical and physiology theories of aging as well for improved health outcomes. The healthcare must understand the theory of development where they arrange education programs and training and to them understand the importance of life. The life cycle is regulated by a biological clock which undergoes sequential patterns, driven by different systems. By understanding all age-related theories, caregivers can make aging successful by improving the life span of mankind.
Cowgill, D. A. (2014). Theory of aging in cross-cultural perspective: Ageing and modernization. Pakistan Journal of Life and Social Sciences, 7(9), 1-14.
Franceschi, C., Monti, D., Sansoni, P., &Cossarizza, A. (2016). The immunology of exceptional individuals: The lesson of centenarians. Immunol Today 16, 12-16.
Grady, P.A. (2014). Advancing the health of our aging population: A lead role for nursing sciences. Nurse outlook, 59(4), 207-2019.
Kowald, A. &Kirkwood, T.B. (2016). A network theory of aging: The interactions of defective mitochondria, aberrant proteins, free radicals, and scavengers in the aging process. Mutat Res 316(14), 209–236.
Lathita, K. (2015). Health aspects of the elderly: A global issue. Journal of Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, 1(2), 1-3.
Royal Commission. (2019). Aged care in Australia. Retrieved from. https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/news-and-media/royal-commission-aged-care-quality-and-safety-interim-report-released
Steven, B., Dowd, A. M., Durick, S.D. (2014). Caring for the older patient: The relationship of theory to practice. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology, 25(1), 24-31.
WHO. (2020). Aging and health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health#:~:text=Today%2C%20for%20the%20first%20time,aged%2080%20years%20or%20older.
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