Courses in Geriatric Care

by Janet Mulroney Clark

    As more and more baby boomers enter their senior years, the need for geriatric care will increase. Caregivers are needed to provide aid in the home, in assisted living facilities, in care centers and in hospitals. Courses in geriatric care provide the skills and understanding needed to meet the needs of older adults effectively and compassionately.

    Homemaker health aides or those who would like training to provide care for their family members might find the American Red Cross's family caregiving course beneficial. This course offers nine self-contained one-hour classes. People can choose to attend all classes or only the ones they find most relevant to their needs. The classes include general caregiving skills, home safety, assisting with personal care, healthy eating, positioning and helping your loved one move, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, caring for the caregiver, and legal and financial issues.

    The course work for certified nursing assistants often includes specific classes about caring for the elderly. For the CNA who wants extra training in geriatrics, however, courses are available to gain in-depth knowledge about this population. Students learn about the specific needs of the elderly for nutrition and hydration, pain management and end-of-life care, and the psychological needs of the elderly as they go through life events such as retirement, disability and loss of loved ones. They also learn about dealing with patients who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Geriatric care assistant programs are available at various community colleges and universities. They typically require just a few months to complete.

    Professionals interested in providing case management for elderly people in hospitals and care facilities or through social welfare agencies or other community agencies can become certified geriatric case managers. GCMs provide care assessment and planning, monitor service performance and advocate for improved quality care, according to the University of Missouri's Web page. Courses are available online or through local colleges and universities. Typical classes may cover ethical practices in geriatric businesses, personal financial issues for older adults, fundamentals of starting a GCM business, and working with the family system.

    Health or human service professionals who work with the elderly might be interested in courses that help them gain understanding about their geriatric clients. Certificate programs in aging are also available online or from local colleges and universities. These courses might include classes such as introduction to gerontology, geriatric assessment and basic issues in aging. Generally, certificate programs are not intended to provide training for a specific career, such as the geriatric case manager, but to provide knowledge about the needs of the elderly to social workers, mental health practitioners and general health practitioners.

    About the Author

    Janet Clark has written professionally since 2001. She writes about education, careers, culture, parenting, gardening and social justice issues. Clark graduated from Buena Vista University with a degree in education. She has written two novels, "Blind Faith" and "Under the Influence." Clark has received several awards from the Iowa Press Women for her work.

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