Posted: February 20th, 2021
Include whether or not you believe demographic factors, such as geography, population, age, or ethnicity, will (or should) influence the disciplines that your classmates chose. Why? Your reply posts should be 100 to 150 words, with a minimum of one supporting reference included.
The purpose of this post is to discuss why a multidisciplinary approach to gerontology is needed and to identify and provide a rationale for the top five disciplines that should be included on a multidisciplinary team. All stakeholders can benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to any field, but especially gerontology. Alkema and Alley (2006) explain that a multidisciplinary approach highlights the ability of different disciplines to cooperate. This can lead to better patient care, healthcare cost reduction, and overall job satisfaction for providers. Kung et al. (2019) found that when providers have adequate resources for their patients they are less likely to experience burnout. Gerontology is not a well-defined discipline, in part because every discipline has to incorporate gerontology, as Alekam and Alley (2006) suggest, gerontology is an integrative study area where it is essential to understand the interconnections of multiple disciplines. Instead of being looked at a small part of each discipline, I think gerontology should be seen as an umbrella of which all other disciplines are a part. For example, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Program specializing in geriatrics, and so other disciplines should also offer specialization in geriatrics. Eventually, they will be specialized and educated providers and different disciplines that can come together and enrich the field of Gerontology.
One provider alone cannot know all there is to know about Gerontology. However, one provider can know where to find resources for their geriatric patients. Some disciplines that are essential to the collaborative care of geriatric patients include physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical social workers, home health aides, and pharmacists. Physical therapy and occupational therapy are two disciplines that can be provided at home and can focus on improving or maintaining the elderly’s independence, mobility, safety, and fall prevention. From my own experience as a Home Health Nurse, medical social workers can help a patient navigate insurance coverage, facility placement, identifying and obtaining basic resources such as food, utilities, health insurance, caregivers, and transportation. Another important discipline, especially in Gerontology is the pharmacist, who can be an incredible resource for both the patient and the provider in making sure drug safety and polypharmacy are addressed. To provide all of these services alone would be nearly impossible for one provider, but a multidisciplinary approach to care can improve the quality of care delivered to the patient and ease the burden on providers.
As people become older, many people can experience different chronic illnesses and psychological complications. In addition to simply becoming older, it is important to highlight that a person’s level of health is influenced by social and environmental factors (Alkema & Alley, 2006). For example, the early death of children and poverty are common risk factors that can negatively impact people as they age (Stowe & Cooney, 2015). As a result of these elements, this discussion will highlight why a multidisciplinary approach is needed when caring for older adults and identify five different disciplines that can be included in this team.
When focusing on the topic of gerontology, a multidisciplinary approach and team are needed to satisfy the variable needs of each individual. In the article by Alkema and Alley (2006), gerontology is best defined as the study of the ageing population. As people age, they will encounter a higher risk of developing multiple comorbidities (Verwijs et al., 2020). In many cases, musculoskeletal changes can decrease bone density and lead to the development of osteoporosis (Gould et al., 2018). In addition, women will begin to experience menopause and can encounter emotional changes. Many chronic illnesses can also negatively affect people’s physical function and even decrease appetite (Verwijs et al., 2020). Due to the abundant numbers of unique changes that are happening to the body, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to quickly diagnose and effectively treat the multiple complications.
When creating a multidisciplinary team to care for older adults, many different disciplines can be integrated. My top five disciplines to be included in the team are psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and physical therapists. To better understand how this multidisciplinary team can work together, a patient’s example will be provided to highlight the important role of each discipline. For example, in the year 2014, people age 85 and older were among the highest risk group to commit suicide (Gonyea et al., 2018). Due to the increased sickness and change in living conditions, these cause many people to experience the feeling of depression (Gonyea et al., 2018). To better help treat these individuals, psychiatrists and nurses can use empathy to better understand the patient’s problem (Yang et al., 2020). Then, psychiatrists can provide counseling services and prescribe medications. With the use of the multidisciplinary team, the social worker can then use the learned knowledge to offer supports for patients in the community (Kim et al., 2020). As the feeling of depression can decrease appetite, a nutritionist can be consulted to help patients develop a healthier eating plan (Gould et al., 2018). Lastly, if the increased sickness impacted people’s mobility, physical therapists could help patients regain their strength and independence (Kim et al., 2020). As people regain their strength, they are also more likely to become happier.
In conclusion, each discipline was chosen based on their ability to help patients better cope with the new changes. Rather than working separately, the psychiatrist was able to collaborate with the social worker to provide effective care quickly. Due to the multiple complications of aging, a health care provider must understand the important role of collaboration when treating patients.
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