The vulnerability of a specific population group is driven by a number of specific risk factors that reflect the response of the population to the surrounding environment. These efforts are important indicators of the development of new ideas and perspectives to reduce vulnerabilities in different population groups, even when risk factors are present. For older populations, particularly those who are frail with limited mobility, vulnerability is very high and requires significant attention to ensure that patient care and wellbeing are not compromised. Therefore, it is necessary for nurses to develop protocols that are specifically designed to manage this population group in such a manner that their vulnerabilities are minimized and their quality of life is improved. The following discussion will address these vulnerabilities in greater detail and will consider how nurses develop strategies to improve practice for these populations.
An article by Rothman and Brown (2007-2008) addresses the significance of different concerns that are relevant for older persons with medical difficulties and challenges such as dementia and disabilities and how these concerns are addressed through specific conditions that are considered after the experiences associated with traumatic events. In this context, nurses must develop standards and protocols that will ensure that patients are treated carefully and thoughtfully so that their needs are met in a successful manner (Rothman and Brown, 2007-2008). These considerations demonstrate that after traumatic events, older frail patients are likely to be highly vulnerable to risk of falls, depression, and other problems (Rothman and Brown, 2007-2008). Therefore, nurses must play a role in addressing these concerns and in developing methods to treat these patients with compassion in order to build their strength, in spite of their age and health status (Rothman and Brown, 2007-2008).
Vulnerable older adults often possess limited opportunities to express their needs to their families and caregivers. Therefore, a variety of resources must be available to these individuals to reduce their risks and to protect them from unnecessary harm. For example, environmental risks in some communities are likely to be evident and create a higher degree of vulnerability in less mobile populations, such as older adults (deFur et.al, 2007). As a result, it is necessary to evaluate these conditions and for nurses to identify methods to protect these populations from environmental risks whenever possible (deFur et.al, 2007). It is also important to explore the vulnerability in older adults in social settings, particularly during and after disasters, because these conditions reflect a challenge to remain as independent as possible when damage to homes has been incurred (Tuohy and Stephens, 2011). These efforts are relevant because they depict a necessity for older adults to be better prepared for emergencies within their communities (Tuohy and Stephens, 2011).
After disastrous events, older adults are particularly vulnerable to specific conditions and limitations that might exist within their environments. Therefore, nurses and caregivers must explore the different dimensions of care and compassion that are required to ensure that their needs are met in a successful manner. Furthermore, Gray-Graves et.al argue that many older adults who are frail might be hesitant to leave their homes out of fear and apprehension of the outside environment. Therefore, this group requires additional attention and care to ensure that their health and wellbeing are not compromised in the process (Gray-Graves et.al). If older adults are hesitant to leave, then there is likely to be an increased risk in the event of a disaster, thereby requiring caregivers to take the steps that are necessary to achieve greater outcomes for their patients or family members within this population group (Gray-Graves et.al).
Finally, Filiberto et.al (2009-2010) address the significance of climate change and its impact on frail older adults and how these conditions lead to greater vulnerability in many of these people. These efforts are important and relevant because this population, in the event that significant shifts in the climate have occurred, face critical challenges that are difficult to overcome and to manage effectively (Filiberto et.al, 2009-2010). In this context, older adults may experience greater amounts of stress as a result of climate change and therefore, are at a much greater risk of vulnerability to disease and other conditions because they have limited mobility (Filiberto et.al, 2009-2010). Therefore, it is important for nurses to recognize this population and to conduct interventions whenever possible so that this population is not left alone without assistance (Filiberto et.al, 2009-2010).
The vulnerability of many frail older adults is particularly relevant in disaster settings, whereby there are significant factors attributed to the success of these populations after disasters have occurred. In this context, nurses play a critical role in providing support and guidance to frail older adults who face greater risks as a result of these events. Nurses are likely to provide assistance to frail adults during evacuations and under other circumstances where mobility is required. These efforts are important and meaningful in shaping outcomes for this population group during a disaster and reflect a means of exploring new insights into the challenges and considerations of nursing care and treatment in improving the quality of life for older adults who face a vulnerable state. These efforts are important in shaping outcomes for frail older adults and in determining how to better manage this population when disasters occur and are difficult to overcome.
DeFur, P.L., Evans, G.W., Hubal, EAH, Kyle, A.D., Morello-Frosch, R.A., and Williams, D.R. (2007). Vulnerability as a function of individual and group resources in cumulative risk assessment. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(5) 817-824.
Filiberto, D., Wethington, E., Pillemer, K., Wells, N.M., Wysocki, M., and Parise, J.T. (2009-2010). Older people and climate change: vulnerability and health effects. Generations, 33(4), 19-25.
Gray-Graves, A., Turner, K.W, and Swan, J.H., Sustainability of seniors: disaster risk reduction management. The Journal of Aging in Emerging Economies, http://www.kent.edu:8014/sociology/resources/jaee/upload/article_1.pdf
Rothman, M., and Brown, L.M. (2007-2008). The vulnerable geriatric casualty: medical needs of frail older adults during disasters. Generations, 31(4), 16-20.
Tuohy, R., and Stephens, C. (2011). Exploring older adults’ personal and social vulnerability in a disaster. International Journal of Emergency Management, 8(1), 60-73.