K. Melillo, the author of the article “Geropsychiatric nursing: What’s in your toolkit,” begins by acknowledging that the role of gerontological practice is to offer high-quality care to elderly citizens. Nurses in this specialty should possess adequate competencies and skills to address the health challenges facing this population. As more people age, numerous health problems and mental conditions emerge. A report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) revealed that 1 in every five older adults in the United States had at least one substance abuse or mental health condition (Melillo, 2017). This trend has, therefore, become a major concern for the country’s healthcare sector. This challenge explains why the field of nursing should be transformed in order to address this problem.
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The author goes further to outline various obstacles that make it impossible for many elderly citizens to receive quality mental and health support. To begin with, many nurses who have specialized in gerontology continue to encounter numerous obstacles. They lack adequate educational opportunities, thereby being unable to meet the needs of this population. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that over 15 percent of the nation’s population was comprised of individuals aged above 55. At the same time, around 7,891 nurses were “certified in generalist gerontological nursing” (Melillo, 2017, p. 4). The article also indicates that a small number of practitioners have been embracing this specialty in the United States.
Due to this gap, the researcher explains why nurse educators and curriculum developers should focus on the best ways to enhance the competencies and skills of practitioners in gerontological care (Melillo, 2017). One of the proposals presented in this article is the concept of geropsychiatric nursing practice (GNP). This refers to a specialty whereby practitioners offer evidence-based, high-quality, and holistic care to individuals above the age of 60. The field also focuses on the mental and developmental needs of this population. This means that practitioners should be empowered to identify, diagnose, and deal with most of the mental, physical, and psychological problems faced by every senior citizen.
The author encourages stakeholders in nursing to expand the roles and knowledge of practitioners. They should be equipped with adequate skills in mental and geropsychiatric health. The initiative will empower more nurses to focus and address the major problems facing the targeted population such as substance abuse and psychological illnesses. They must combine these insights with their competencies to improve the quality of services available to these individuals (Melillo, 2017). Leaders and policymakers in health care should be aware of these emerging issues and challenges affecting the elderly. This move will result in a new system that can empower and support the needs of aged citizens in the nation.
The above article has outlined and discussed a number of concerns that should be taken seriously within the healthcare sector. Aging is a process that presents new health problems such as increased substance abuse and mental illnesses. This predicament has emerged at a time when the field of nursing is unprepared for the demographic changes experienced in the United States. It will, therefore, be appropriate for nurse practitioners to be equipped with superior skills and competencies in gerontology. The government should also introduce superior policies to ensure that more nurses are equipped with the right knowledge and resources to meet this need. This approach will empower more senior citizens and make it easier for them to achieve their potential.
Melillo, K. D. (2017). Geropsychiatric nursing: What’s in your toolkit? Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 43(1), 3-6. Web.