Daily Press

Support for nurses critical as Virginia’s population ages

- By Joan Punch Joan Punch is president of senior options and Westminste­r-Canterbury at Home in Virginia Beach.

May was Older Americans Month and the month also featured Nursing Appreciati­on Week. It is important to acknowledg­e the vital role nurses have in caring for our aging population. These dedicated profession­als work relentless­ly to provide essential medical care and support to aging adults. As our aging population in Virginia continues to grow, it is imperative we recognize the importance of offering services to support our nurses and help them to better care for our aging citizens. It is never too late to thank your favorite nurse and learn how to help support them.

Nurses are the backbone of health care. They are the frontline workers who spend the most time with patients, and this is particular­ly true when it comes to caring for older adults. They provide emotional support, manage medication­s, and coordinate care with other health care profession­als. They are also responsibl­e for helping patients and their families navigate complex health care systems, including insurance, medication management and treatment options.

Virginia’s population of aging adults is just starting to explode with the arrival of the baby-boom generation. We must support nurses in a manner that will enable the profession to grow and support aging services. It is crucial to provide them with the resources they need to give the best possible care to our aging adults. This includes training and education to help nurses stay up to date on the latest medical advances and to access technology and equipment that can make their jobs easier and more efficient. It can also mean providing support for nurses who may be dealing with stress, so that they can continue to provide compassion­ate care to their residents.

Mental health is extremely important for not only our nurses but our residents. For residents and our at-home patients, Westminste­r is on the leading edge of research and promotion of engagement technology as well as the careful and innovative options. We strive to contribute by being national thought leaders.

To foster good mental health among nurses, we need to support them by offering the necessary resources to help them cope with the challenges of their work. Excellent employee assistance (counseling) programs are essential. Westminste­r provides many of these tools to our nurses, and our associatio­n, LeadingAge Virginia, helps us and other aging services providers do the same. By investing in the well-being of our nurses, they can then provide better care to our older adults.

But it’s not just about providing resources. We must also recognize the importance of compassion in nursing. Compassion­ate care is the foundation of high-quality nursing, and it is particular­ly crucial when caring for older adults, who may feel vulnerable and isolated. Nurses who are given the tools and resources they need to provide compassion­ate care are better equipped to build meaningful relationsh­ips with their patients and provide the support they need to thrive. Even educating more young people about the impact they can have on aging Virginians is beneficial.

This is why it is so important to recognize that supporting nurses ultimately benefits our aging adults. By ensuring they have the resources they need to provide compassion­ate and effective care, we can help ensure that our aging population receives the best possible care and support. This, in turn, can help our aging Virginians maintain their independen­ce and quality of life as they grow older.

In conclusion, as a society, we must recognize the vital role that nurses play in providing care and support to our aging population and provide them with the resources, tools and support they need to succeed. By doing so, we can ensure that our aging population receives the high-quality care they deserve, and our nurses can continue to provide compassion­ate, excellent care to those who need it most. We believe in LeadingAge Virginia’s vision — positive aging for each Virginian.

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