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Arkansas State University

What Is Social Gerontology?

Nurses who work in gerontology understand the elements of elderly care, including chronic conditions, social determinants of health and long-term treatment strategies. One aspect of the gerontology field is the idea of social gerontology.

Social gerontology “focuses particularly on social relationships in old age, social participation of elderly and old people and the protection of their individual needs. Self-determination and autonomy are important value orientations.”

Social gerontology encompasses more than just physical health. Rather, it looks at an individual’s whole health, including emotional, mental and spiritual capacities. Often, when one of these capacities is affected, other parts of the individual are harmed, leading health to deteriorate significantly over time.

Nursing is critical in helping older patients improve their well-being through social gerontology best practices. In an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program, like that from Arkansas State University (A-State), students learn about the importance of holistic care in gerontology.

The Importance of Holistic Care

Holistic care is important for older patients for many reasons. It can be difficult for certain patients to come to terms with aging and getting older, which allows nurses to step in and truly listen to the needs of the older community.

Nurses guide patients toward social participation and autonomy. When older patients can improve their quality of life and life satisfaction through meaningful activities, they are more likely to feel a sense of pride for everything they have accomplished. Through holistic care, patients evaluate their own lives based on guidelines provided by nurses. They receive the steps they need to change their perspective on aging.

Using this approach in nursing helps older individuals recognize that they still have a wonderful life to live and have a voice in society, even when it might seem lonely or challenging.

Sociological Perspectives on Aging

From a sociological perspective, aging is a part of life and should never be considered a “bad” thing. However, society gives a negative connotation to aging because individuals “lose” aspects they had in their youth, such as their physical or cognitive abilities.

The World Health Organization states that “ageism is pervasive, affects people of all ages from childhood onwards and has serious and far-reaching consequences for people’s health, well-being and human rights. Ageism can be found within institutions, in interactions between people and within ourselves.”

With aging comes retirement and the inability to work at the same speed as before. It can also indicate that mental capacities are declining or physical activity is nonexistent. However, this does not mean older individuals have no purpose in life at this stage. They are still valued, even when they are going through difficult times.

Most older adults can still perform activities independently and contribute to society in multiple ways. Social gerontology allows older adults to continue being themselves while managing their holistic health.

Foster a Compassionate Perspective With a Master’s Degree

One way to foster a compassionate perspective as a gerontologic clinical nurse is to further your career and earn your MSN degree. Graduates of the MSN – Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner online program at A-State can work as nurse leaders in acute care or other clinical environments. Due to the program’s accelerated nature, students can graduate in as few as 24 months and begin working to improve the quality of patient care for adult gerontology in an evolving healthcare landscape.

Each future gerontologic clinical nurse leader will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter influential roles in various healthcare settings. Graduates can pursue roles in emergency rooms, ICUs, urgent care facilities and other specialty medicine practices.

The program allows all students to understand and execute management principles and prepare for new career opportunities that encompass social aspects of health. The program’s seminar and practicum courses provide students with the necessary skills to work with older patients and the chronic and acute conditions they often face.

Learn more about the A-State’s online MSN – Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

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