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RNCAH - Improving Care of Older Adults

Illinois is the fifth most populated state with over 12-million persons. Nearly three-million persons live in the Chicago area and approximately 300,000 are persons over 65 years of age. Many older adults have at least one medical health problem and view themselves as being in fair to poor health. 

The Rush Nursing Center for Aging and Health (RNCAH) faculty have long integrated multiple health care roles in responding to the needs of older adults — that of being clinicians, teachers and researchers. The goal for health care of older adults is to help them maintain overall health and function (mental, physical/functional, social and spiritual), and treat illness in the least restrictive setting. RNCAH faculty members currently care for older adults in their home, community settings, hospitals, nursing homes and at the end of life. They also provide educational support, consultation and resources to professionals who provide care for older adults.

The growth of the population age 65 years and over will increase dramatically from 2010 - 2030, growing from 35-million to 72-million, and representing nearly 20 percent of the total United States population. The growth of this population affects many aspects of society: policymakers, families, businesses and health care providers. Many older adults have at least one chronic health condition, which negatively affects quality of life, contributes to declines in function and the inability to remain in the community.

Supporting Professional Caregivers to Improve the Care of Older Adults

RNCAH faculty members are committed to supporting the needs of professional care providers for older adults. The Center hosts a variety of live informational sessions, and provides links to online resources. 

Quarterly Lunch ‘N Learn Informational Sessions

RNCAH hosts quarterly informational sessions that address topics designed to improve the care of older adults. Sessions are open to all Rush University Medical Center students, faculty and staff. Goals of these sessions are to:

  • Increase knowledge to meet health care needs of older adults and their family members.
  • Provide opportunities to network with other interdisciplinary professionals who provide care for older adults.

Monthly Interdisciplinary Grand Rounds

Rush University Medical Center Department of Internal Medicine and Senior Care host monthly Grand Round lectures on various topics related to older adults. All members of the Rush community are invited to attend. CE credits are also offered for these events. Examples of recent topics include:

  • What’s the Deal with Vitamin D? - Kristin AR Gustashaw, MS, RD, CSG, senior clinical dietitian, Rush Nutrition and Wellness Center, Department of Food and Nutrition Services at Rush University Medical Center
  • Evaluation and Treatment of Patients with Shoulder Pain - Sheila A. Dugan, MD, associate professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


Providing Resources for Professionals

RNCAH also supports care of older adults by providing links to organizations and on-line tools that provide information about how to provide this care.

  • Rush Aging Initiatives
    Rush Generations, a free health and aging membership program for older adults and people who care for them. Free resources that promote healthy and vital living are provided. Services are available online, via email, via a toll-free telephone number and in person.
  • Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
    The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center is dedicated to research about the cause, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Investigators at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center focus on four main areas of research: risk factors for Alzheimer’s and related disorders, the neurological basis of the disease, diagnosis and treatment.
  • The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing whose mission is to “shape the quality of health care of older adults through nursing excellence” provides many resources including:
    • Try This: Assessment Tool Series provides a variety of assessment tools for nurses working with older adults. Each item is clear and concise with accessible content in two pages that can easily be administered in 20 minutes or less.
    • The E-learning site is a continuing education portal for courses, tools, and other resources including the Gerontological Certification Review Course, geriatric and nursing home clinical teaching modules for faculty, advance practice Web-based case studies and an elder mistreatment course.
    • Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity provides a two-year scholarship program that supports full-time doctoral education for nurses committed to careers in academic geriatric nursing. Generous funding is provided through The John A. Hartford Foundation.
  • Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses (GAPNA) represents nearly 10,000 certified advanced practice nurses who work with older adults in a wide variety of practice settings. GAPNA is the organization of choice for advanced practice nurses who want to pursue continuing education in gerontological care and who seek peer support from experienced clinicians.
  • The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the oldest and largest multidisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. GSA’s 5,400 members come from over 40 countries, which helps make GSA the driving force behind the advancement of gerontology both in the United States and internationally. Of the almost 50 special interest groups within GSA, the nursing interest group (Nursing Care of Older Adults) is the largest with approximately 650 members. Anyone who is a member of GSA is eligible to sign up for the interest group’s listserv.
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