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The Elderly Patient at Risk

Zwicker, C DeAnne MS, APRN, BC


As the baby-boom generation turn age 65, it is important that nurses are informed about the unique problems of the elderly patient, particularly because the elderly represent the highest percentage of clients in hospitals, homecare, and long-term and subacute nursing facilities. Infusion nurses, particularly those in homecare, are in a pivotal position to proactively identify acute illness at an early stage and thereby improve outcomes in this vulnerable population. To do this, infusion nurses must understand the normal changes that come with aging, the profile of the elderly patient at greatest risk for poor outcomes, and the often-atypical presentation of illness. Additionally, infusion nurses must be informed about tools used to assess and monitor the patient’s status. Finally, infusion nurses must understand the increased potential for iatrogenesis in the elderly and provide proactive interventions to avert its occurrence to improve quality of life and outcomes for this population.

C. DeAnne Zwicker is a Private Practice Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Senior Advisor for Special Projects for John A. Hartford Geriatric Institute/Division of Nursing, Steinhardt School of Education, New York University.

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© Copyright 2003 by the Infusion Nurses Society