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      Aspirus nurses seek to improve geriatric care

      About 50 nurses from the three Aspirus hospitals in the Upper Peninsula are learning about improving the care of elderly patients in a two-day seminar put on by Aspirus Wausau.

      According to research by Aurora Healthcare, more than 50 percent of patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice care are aged 65 years and older. Between Aspirus Grand View, Ontonagon, and Keweenaw hospitals, that number rises to nearly 65 percent.

      Grace Tousignant, Aspirus Regional U.P. Chief nursing officer, said for this reason, itâ??s vital to talk to nurses about geriatric care.

      â??When they come into the hospital, they donâ??t come in with just one problem,â?? said Tousignant. â??Usually it's multiple problems, so if somebody comes in that has to have surgery, itâ??s not just a surgery itself, but they come in with other complications, and so, itâ??s treating the whole person versus just one diagnosis.â??

      Marsha Vollbrecht of Aurora Healthcare is presenting on the ACE program, or Acute Care for Elders.

      ACE is an evidence based practice, which means research is involved in knowing what the best practices are for the elderly to prevent a functional decline in patients.

      â??Itâ??s an approach to recognize what those vulnerabilities are, to keep the person mobile, so that we make sure that if they came in and they were a functional older adult living at home that they can go back home if at all possible,â?? explained Vollbrecht.

      Nurses are also learning to communicate with families better on how to care for their parents and grandparents.

      â??We need to keep the families involved in the care of their elderly family members and how we can relate to them and communicate to them whatâ??s important in that care,â?? Tousignant added.

      Vollbrecht said with life expectancy on the rise, hospitals need to be more in tune to the needs of the elderly and know how to have difficult conversations about the status of a patientâ??s health.

      â??So, the overarching goal is to train the workforce to give them the tools they need to provide those good assessments, wonderful interventions, and that we have good care plans for older adults so they stay functional,â?? she said.