Nursing Care of Older Adults

A New Look at the Old

How To Try This

Science has shown how the human body changes with aging; changes that drive the need to totally change the way we assess, plan, deliver and evaluate nursing care. The American Journal of Nursing (AJN) recognizes that nurses today will care for more adults over 65 than any other patient population. Caring for older adults requires specific expertise -- knowledge and skills that the majority of nurses did not learn in school, and for which less than one percent have had specialized training or certification.

What's so different about caring for older adults? Physiologic changes associated with aging changes the way illness presents; the way the human body responds to treatment; and which treatments are even appropriate. Many of the past approaches to care used in gerontology are no longer appropriate and research has informed a wealth of evidence-based practices that all clinicians and practitioners should be routinely employing in the care they give in order to provide the safest, highest quality care possible. To better prepare nurses for this responsibility, AJN is actively working with experts in gerontology to organize best practices, resources and tools that will shape the delivery of evidence-based care of older adults.

Building expertise in geriatric assessment 

Newest in our resource base is the How to Try This series, a John A. Hartford Foundation-funded project provided to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University's College of Nursing in collaboration with the American Journal of Nursing. This initiative will translate the evidence-based geriatric assessment tools in the Try This assessment series ( into cost-free, web-based resources including demonstration videos, and a corresponding print series featured in the AJN, developed to build geriatric assessment skills - the foundation for appropriate care of older adults.

Evidence-based practices in care of older adults 

Also available are the articles and case-study videos in the New Look at the Old series, a collaborative effort between the AJN and the Gerontological Society of America, supported with funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies. This series details best practices around issues such as functional decline in hospitalized older adults; nutritional needs and interventions; appropriate medications; and other topics that present daily in the care of older adults. All of these materials are available at no cost and can be found by following the link above.

On this, our umbrella page for older adults, we have organized some additional resources that nurses and other clinicians will find invaluable in their education and in day-to-day practice. The resources here will continue to grow, and we invite you to check here often to see what you can learn. Also, we welcome your suggestions and links to other resources that will enhance knowledge and skills in gerontology. Please submit your questions and suggestions to: Katherine Kany at, or 703-729-6050.

Resources for the Care of Older Adults

  Professional Development:  The Nurse Competence in Aging Initiative: Encouraging expertise in the care of older adults  AJN, September 2006.

   Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, developed in 1996 with funding from the John A. Hartford Foundation, Inc., focuses on improving the quality of care provided to older adults by promoting excellence in geriatric nursing practice, education, research, and policy. Please visit the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing’s home page at is the geriatric clinical nursing website of The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, New York University College of Nursing. is an evidence-based online resource for nurses in clinical and educational settings. is funded in part by a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies (USA) Inc. to support work with specialty nursing associations.

 Terra Nova Films, a not-for-profit company based in Chicago, is the nation’s leading producer/distributor of videos on elderhood and aging. For more than 25 years, Terra Nova Films has produced quality, award-winning videos that help train, sensitize and motivate both professional and family caregivers using the power of video to explore with integrity and openness the many issues inherent in "growing older." More information about Terra Nova Films can be found at

  The Gerontological Society of America: is a non-profit professional organization with more than 5000 members in the field of aging. GSA provides practitioners, researchers, educators, and policy makers with opportunities to understand, advance, integrate, and use basic and applied research on aging to improve the quality of life as one ages.

  American Nephrology Nurses' Association (ANNA): ANNA is a professional nursing association whose mission is to advance nephrology nursing practice and positively influence outcomes for patients with kidney disease processes requiring replacement therapies through advocacy, scholarship and excellence. ANNA has created a new Web resource, Spotlight on Older Adults, which contains Web links, articles, education events and other materials to help educate nurses about caring for the elderly and responding to the unique needs of the older renal patient. (

  American Radiological Nurses Association (ARNA): The American Radiological Nurses Association (ARNA) was founded in 1981 as the professional organization representing nurses who practice in diagnostic and therapeutic imaging environments. ARNA members, including those who serve as advanced practice nurses, provide, promote, and maintain continuity of quality patient care in imaging environments such as general diagnostic, neurointerventional/cardiovascular, interventional, ultrasonography, computerized tomography, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance, breast health and radiation oncology. ARNA's mission is to foster the growth of radiology nurses who advance the standard of care.

  National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (N-OADN): Founded in 1984, the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (N-OADN) is recognized nationally as the voice for AD nursing, representing agencies and individual members. N-OADN is dedicated to enhancing the quality of AD nursing education, strengthening the professional role of the AD nurse, and protecting the future of AD nursing in the midst of healthcare changes.

  National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO): The National Nursing Staff Development Organization, established in 1989, is a national organization of more than 3,000 registered nurses dedicated to the advancement of the specialty of staff development for the enhancement of quality healthcare outcomes.

  National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA): The National Gerontological Nursing Association is dedicated to the clinical care of older adults across diverse care settings. Members include clinicians, educators, and researchers with vastly different educational preparation, clinical roles, and interest in practice issues. CORE PURPOSE: To improve the quality of nursing care to older adults.

  Concept Healthcare offers educational material and training in the use of psychological concepts in their interactions with patients and their families that will significantly increase the quality and efficiency of care delivery with older adults. Online courses, audio recordings, mini courses, and live teleconferences. Visit