How Can We Improve Care for Older Patients?

Connie Davis, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Fraser Health, British Columbia, Canada
Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • List at least two traits or behaviors that can be helpful when caring for elderly patients.
  • Discuss how patient-centered care for an elderly patient can be different from patient-centered care for a younger patient. 
Description: Clinical Nurse Specialist Connie Davis says her career caring for the elderly has been “an amazing gift.” Learn how practicing patient-centered care with seniors can enrich both your life and their health outcomes.
Discussion Questions:
  1. If you plan to practice medicine, would you consider pursuing geriatrics as a specialty? Why or why not? In what ways would it be especially challenging? In what ways would it be especially rewarding?
  2. Connie Davis lists several traits and skills required to care for the elderly. What else would you put on this list?
  3. How would you want your grandmother, grandfather, or any elderly person whom you’re close with to be treated by the health care system? (E.g., Would you want them to feel in control of their care? How could the health system help them with that?)
  4. Have you seen or heard about any positive or negative experiences related to elderly care that you’d be willing to share?
  5. Read this May 2008 New York Times article: “For the Elderly, Being Heard About Life’s End.” For students who plan to be clinicians: How might you feel if an elderly patient were reluctant to pursue an aggressive therapy that you felt would be effective? What questions might you ask the patient? And what might be your emotions upon recommending a gentler but less effective treatment option? 
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