People aged 65 years and older are currently the fastest growing population in the United States and will likely account for 20% of the population by 2030. According to research, 88% of this population have at least one chronic condition, with 75% having multiple chronic conditions.
Aging is a natural part of life, but how people age—how rapidly and the overall experience—depends on the person. It dependent on a number of factors, such as lifelong lifestyles, diet and exercise habits, quality of relationships, individual outlook and sense of purpose.
Unique Challenges Facing Older Adults
As a healthcare professional serving older adults, the more you understand this population’s unique characteristics and challenges, the better you will be able to serve them. Through Navigating Communication and Chronic Conditions with Older Adults, you will get an overview of physical and cognitive changes that occur within the population and how to communicate with older adults experiencing these changes, including:
- The most common chronic conditions impacting older adults (e.g., hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, coronary heart disease, and diabetes) and general guidelines for communicating with them.
- Common physical changes that occur with the older adult population (e.g., hearing, vision, gait/balance) and how to best accommodate patients to provide appropriate and effective care.
- Cognitive changes related to aging and evidence based tools that can be utilized to screen for cognitive impairment.
- How to communicate more effectively with patients suffering from dementia and cognitive impairment .
- How health literacy can impact overall health, the unique challenges older adults face related to health literacy, and general guidelines and best practices for helping reduce the barrier of health literacy.
- The goals and components of a standard Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) to proactively focus on what the individual can to do maintain or improve their current health status.
As the older adult population continues to grow and change, healthcare workers have a great responsibility to understand the aging experience. By understanding the common chronic conditions, learning how to best communicate with patients despite physical and cognitive changes, and knowing the recommended wellness visits and screenings, you can help patients maintain quality of life throughout the aging process.
If you’re NHA certified, you can access this article and receive CE credits through your NHA account.