The Real Nurse Jackie

The provider that doesn't read this risks getting capsized

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Jacqueline Vance, RN
Jacqueline Vance, RN

Hey, long-term care operator, a sexy tidal wave is coming your way. It's going to change the way you do just about everything. Let me explain.

We need to get prepared for the oldest of the baby boomers, who will soon populate our nursing facilities. The oldest of the baby boomers, after all, have already hit 65.

These are the ones that have most radically reshaped the way society thinks about the graying of America. Think the term “Silver Tsunami.”  A sexy tidal wave, baby! Who do you think invented that term? It wasn't that 20-something in the marketing department.

It's estimated that by the year 2020, nearly 12 million people will need long-term care. This number will surely grow with the aging tidal wave. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, 70% of people 65 years and older will need long term-care services at some point in their life.

So figure within the next 10 or so years, this silver tsunami will begin coming to a nursing home near you. 

Baby boomers will, without a doubt, change the face of long-term care. They have changed the face of everything from housing (think: ranchers to first-floor master suites), diapering (think: disposable diapers), cooking (think: microwave and convection ovens), and music (Elvis, the Beatles and so many more). And on and on.

No other generation has changed the face of consumerism as this generation has.  So don't sit back and think LTC will be any different.

This population has already changed the approach to financing for long-term care. This same population that changed and revolutionized the social movement in the second half of the 20th century will not be giving up their independence just because they are going into a facility or community. And if any of them have had a negative experience with an aging parent in LTC, they will be shopping competitively looking for a place that offers them that independence and personal choice. Baby Boomers are and will continue to influence society and consumerism. So prepare now.

Even today, when people tour your facility as a potential home, they want to see a list of current activities and services. You're going to need a lot more options. 

Think Bingo will be entertaining? Forget about it! Decaf coffee? Better break out that fancy espresso machine! Speaking of dining options, you should think of restaurant type menu offering, not meal of the moment. Also, timing of the meal will be key. Not mass “feeding.”

This is a health-conscious group, so you also need your physicians to get over their resistance to supplementation. (This group spends more on supplements than any other generation.) Docs must offer “integrative medicine” — like they do in every other country, except the U.S., that is.

And, just recently back from the NADONA/LTC conference in Las Vegas, another thought occurred to me: We need to ramp up rehab for the boomers.

I was walking from my room to the convention center VERY early one morning and passed two women in their 60s on slot machines. One was drinking a fancy cocktail (but it did look like it had OJ in it — a breakfast of champions). The other was slugging a bottle of beer (so, OK, health wasn't their choice in this case).

 But as I watched them, I was amazed at their dexterity (drinking, smoking, putting in money, pushing buttons all at the same time — and in more than one machine!).

And I thought, you know, here is a practical application for us. Instead of those orange cones we have post-stroke patients stack up to get their hand-eye coordination back, we should bring in a slot machine with the old fashioned handle, sit the patients in front of it, give them a beverage and quarters, and let them have a go at it.

As a matter of fact, give them two machines as they progress. Now that's individualizing!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates. 

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who also is the director of clinical affairs for AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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