Job opportunities in the health care industry have been consistently growing, with an average of 35,000 new jobs added each month in 2016. This upward trend is expected to continue thanks to the aging of the “Baby Boomer” generation.
The term “Baby Boomers,” which was coined for an uptick in the post-World War II birth rate, refers to those born between 1946 and 1964. According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), this age group could contribute to a 75% increase in demand for nursing home care, with about 2.3 million people projected to need nursing home care in 2030. That’s a large increase from the 1.3 million requiring this sort of care in 2010!
Providing nursing home care isn’t the only way to make your career all about caring for older adults. Consider going into the field of geriatrics if you’re interested in answering this demand for care, and for helping older adults outside of nursing homes, too.
Geriatricians provide generalized care
Patients over the age of 65 benefit from living a healthy lifestyle like patients of any age, but they also require extra consideration for conditions that are more common with age. Diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s are a few such conditions that a geriatrician will be on the lookout for when working with older patients.
Geriatricians are specifically trained to evaluate and manage the unique health care needs and treatment preferences of older people. If they suspect cancer, neurological problems or other serious health issues, they may refer patients to specialists.
Geriatric pharmacists supplement to support well-being
Geriatric pharmacists, sometimes called consultants, counsel older patients about medication. As medications are added to a patient’s daily routine, pharmacists ensure there are no negative interactions with the medications that are already prescribed. They can also help make changes in dosages to help alleviate side effects.
Pharmacists spend a lot of time answering questions about health concerns in general. Geriatric pharmacists can help their older patients by offering insight into how to manage medication and how to save money by switching to a generic medication.
Nutritionists make healthy living possible at any age
Nutritionists can help their older patients with weight management — which is a growing concern for Americans of all ages these days, but especially older ones as extra weight puts stress on joints — and other nutrition-related concerns like osteoporosis. Related to osteoporosis specifically, nutritionists can help dispel the myth that milk is the only way to get calcium. With a little education, patients of all ages can discover the at least 18 ways to get calcium that don’t include dairy.
Community dietitians can work with nursing homes to prevent disease and promote health. Corporate dietitians have an influence over the generation as a whole, preparing educational materials and even influencing targeted advertisements to encourage a specific way of eating. There are also clinical dietitians who work with individual patients to match up dietary needs and medication side effects to find the perfect solution.
Geriatric psychiatrists promote mental health
The Baby Boomer generation has been through several wars and conflicts, and experienced wide economic gaps and a higher divorce rate than previous generations. They also are more likely to need additional care as the country sees a rise in the rates of Alzheimer’s disease, which could potentially triple by 2050.
Improving the quality of life for geriatric patients is the top priority for geriatric psychiatrists. Mental health issues, including dementia and depression, are areas in which these psychiatrists may choose to specialize. Working with their knowledge of biological, psychological and social factors affecting this generation, psychiatrists are able to treat the whole person and the whole problem. Some of the unique things they may work with patients through include fear of death, grief at losing a loved one or financial issues.
Geriatric staff nurses build relationships to offer the best care possible
One position that’s certainly in demand is geriatric staff nurse. As the census predicts over 20% of Americans will be over age 65 but less than 4% of registered nurses are certified in geriatrics, this is going to be a promising area of opportunity for those just entering this field.
Geriatric patients can be complex, with changes to their mental abilities and physical capabilities. There are many roles a nurse plays, but listening may be the most important. With this generation, establishing a personal relationship is key. A steady conversation will allow a health care provider to determine the patient’s mental status and cognitive skills, understand their health issues and perhaps most importantly, establish trust.
If you’re looking for a career that focuses on caring for those who need it, add these positions that specialize in geriatrics to your list. Not only will you be filling a gap in health care, but you’ll be helping a large population live better lives.