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President's Message: "Celebrate the Cycle of Life"

By Mary Rita Hurley, MPA, RN, FNGNA

As summer segues into Fall I am reminded of the beauty that the changing of the seasons brings. It is the life cycle of birth (Spring/Summer) and dormancy/death (Fall/Winter). As Gero nurses, we experience these changes within our practices every day. Most people outside our world are scratching their heads at this statement. Believing that all we see is sadness and death. It seems like we have a secret that we need to share about the richness and wonder of the lives we are privileged to serve. Just today a dear friend of mine who is 75 years young called me with incredible excitement about her new iPhone 6. She spoke very rapidly about how she needed the new features, especially the Blue Tooth as her new sports car has the technology. I asked why the IPhone and she stated that she needed it to synch with her IPad. So, new technology is just for “young” people? I think not. This is just one of many stories we all have about living well, living long.

In our society and culture unfortunately, ageism is alive and well. As Gero health advocates, we are on the front line of dispelling the myths and educating the public. I truly believe it is our duty. With over 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the United States, we are creating a mass cohort of baby boomers who are an amazing, productive, innovative group. Enough already with the “old people” jokes, cards, slights, and innuendos. It is not funny. It is disrespectful and uneducated. As a baby boomer and aging woman I am offended by the platitudes, the ‘ma’am’s, ‘you are too old to go back to school’, ‘shouldn’t you be retiring’, and ‘I am only concerned about your welfare’ comments.

No, I am not retiring anytime soon, yes, I am looking into grad school, and thank you for your concern but I am in a great space professionally. We have an amazing opportunity to set the example of living long, living well. Our next generation of nurses as well as patients, residents, and clients are counting on us. So, as the Fall leads into Winter, please take time for self-care and self-renewal. We need our health - physically, mentally, and spiritually - to continue our quest as advocates and a voice for older adults.

All the best,
 
Mary Rita Hurley, RN, MPA, FNGNA
President

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President's Message: "The Future is Now"

By Mary Rita Hurley, MPA, RN, FNGNA

Two interesting things have happened recently. One, I visited a high tech home in Tacoma Washington, and the other is an article I read in the March 2014 AARP magazine titled, “Is this the end of the nursing home”? Of course, I thought this was a “sign” that I needed to get up to speed with the latest technology in regards to the care of older adults.

When I attended the Northwest NGNA chapter’s bimonthly meeting at the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Center (TLRC), we were invited to tour the TLRC Innovations Home. This home promotes safer, longer, active, independent living through the incorporation of the latest and affordable technologies. Much of what we saw was a ‘no brainer,’ for us gero nurses. For example, a jumbo remote, remote overhead lights, touch lights, faucets, PC with voice recognition, a couch cane, and more. Our group was not aware of these innovations, and we were amazed at the common sense designs and applications. There were many items that we all wanted to purchase - such as the washer/dryer combo and the robot vacuum!

As we toured the facility, the light bulb went on for me, as I realized that this technology is available for the people we care for. Most of the technology is affordable and easily purchased and installed. Because this incorporates community education, we can promote education within our respective communities and include the vendors to answer questions and make recommendations. This is nursing education and awareness. It is what we do!

One AARP article recently highlighted a system called “Lively.” You can place sensors on pillboxes, the refrigerator, microwave bathroom, and car keys then log on remotely to “see” the activity of your loved ones. Talk about peace of mind for caregivers, families, and the care team.

Given that 40% of US adults’ ages 85+ live alone, as well as a third 65 and older, it seems logical to embrace these new technologies. Currently, more than 4 in 10 US adults are caring for an adult or child with major health issues and 5-7 million are long distance caregivers. These numbers are staggering.

More and more people are embracing these new technologies. It gives older adults a chance with more confidence to live on their own, and keeps families from making the gut wrenching decision of removing a parent from their home. As gerontological nurses, we need to be aware of and recommend these devices. As “care” continues to move back into the home, we are and will be pivotal to successful aging in place. The AARP article included that Medicaid may reimburse for some aging-in-place technologies but currently Medicare does not. Why is that?

Now is the time to join our NGNA Policy Committee to begin the process of affecting change. It is time to become engaged in adding another change to our health care system. By activating our Policy Committee, we can begin research to identify cost savings to the system when correlated to the cost of alternative living situations coupled with older adult and family testimonials. Emailing and scheduling face-to face meetings with your legislators are very effective. They want to hear from their constituents; they want to hear from us. Every one of us in our respective cities should be locating our senior services organizations and identifying community agencies that have grant funding and other resources to assist families who are in greatest need. There is no one more suited for this advocate role than the gerontological nurse and our colleagues!

All the best,
 
Mary Rita Hurley, RN, MPA, FNGNA
President

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President's Message

By Mary Rita Hurley, RN, MPA, FNGNA

Hello NGNA Members,

I am Mary Rita Hurley, your new NGNA Board President for 2013-2015. It is an honor to be leading our esteemed Board of Directors as we represent you on behalf of NGNA. Serving and giving back to the profession that has given so much to me over these past 34 years is one way I can use my voice. How are you using yours? It is so important for us to identify ourselves as nurses in every setting we practice because we are the patient, resident, and client advocates. We walk the talk every day in our role(s) in our practice settings. We are an amazing force of three million strong in the country. Can you even imagine what we could do if we harnessed our energy into one collective voice? I can. We would see older adults treated with consistent dignity and respect. Quality of life discussions would be the norm. Care providers would be acknowledged and applauded for the care and compassion they demonstrate day in and day out. This is not a dream but a reality in many places. We at NGNA are striving to make this the default all over the country. We do this by being involved locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Check out our website and the resources offered there, attend Gero specific conferences, write a letter to Congress addressing your concerns and offer a solution, and volunteer with us or other professional organizations that speak to your heart. We know you are all busy and have trouble finding a spare minute, however, if you stop for just a second and listen you will find you have more to say than you know.

I have been a member of NGNA for many years for one simple reason: I belong here. Why? Because this organization is the only Gero nursing practice organization in the country. We are the only ones that have our LPN and CNA colleagues included in the ranks. We are inclusive. Given the state of our healthcare system and the ever changing landscape, it is important to “rally the troops” and keep our focus steady: quality care of older adults. It’s what you and I do every day. Our 28th annual conference in Clearwater, Florida last month really brought this to light. An energetic gathering of 200 + likeminded Gero nurses came together to share their stories, best practices and collaborative spirits. It was wonderful to reconnect with dear friends and colleagues but I especially loved the students that attended. We had more this year than in our history! Their optimism, positive energy, and natural curiosity got me all excited about being a nurse again. These are very bright and talented young people. I am so glad they chose to affiliate with NGNA. We were inspired by our keynote speakers, shed a few tears, and laughed so hard – we had to catch our breath. That is what I love about NGNA, you can be you and be renewed and refreshed in 2 short days. Priceless!

Enjoy the upcoming holiday season and feel free to contact me or any of the Board with your ideas and suggestions. And, remember your voice is powerful. Use it!

All the best,

Mary Rita Hurley, RN, MPA, FNGNA
President

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President's Message: A Leader Says Thank You

By Amy Cotton MSN, GNP-BC, FNP-BC, FNGNA, FAAN

NGNA Form Listen to the President's Podcast (Sept-Oct 2013)

Amy Cotton I am grateful.  How quickly the last two years have flown by.  As I think about the highlights of my NGNA Presidency, I am struck how much you, NGNA members, have influenced, encouraged and inspired me and I want to say “Thank You.” 
 
We have accomplished so much.  Strengthening partnerships, developing new collaborations and creating new member resources as a result of these relationships just to name a few.  Your Board leaders have boldly forged ahead with implementing strategies to support our mission, to improve nursing care for older adults.
 
I am excited as Mary Rita Hurley assumes NGNA’s presidency in October at our 2013 Annual Convention.  As the Executive Director for the Oregon Center for Nursing, she brings to NGNA  leadership expertise, expert knowledge of gerontological nursing and older adult health issues, strong skills in partnership cultivation as well as a genuine passion to improve nursing care for older adults.  With her leadership, and our outstanding Board of Directors and national office team, we are in good hands. 
 
It has been a privilege and honor to serve you.  I encourage each of you to continue to influence and improve older adult nursing care in whatever roles you have the opportunity to do so.  I shared with you my credo in an early President's message:  To value aging is to improve lives, not just the lives of older adults but their loved ones and those who work passionately to care for them.  
 
You have all improved my life and I thank you for the phenomenal work you do in gerontological nursing. I'll miss talking to you every few months.  Be good to yourselves and your nursing colleagues.  See you at convention!
 
Warmest regards and blessings to you,
Amy