COVID-19 Teaching Project in the Elderly Population

Nature of Project

Nowadays, health promotion can be defined as an integral part of life for all individuals regardless of their age, gender, or social group. At the same time, older adults require a permanent health education, as this age group is especially vulnerable to severe diseases. Health providers have always been arranging counseling sessions for individuals in their 50s and older. However, the demand for these services has rapidly increased in 2020 due to the vast spread of Covid-19. The global pandemic is widely known for health complications experienced by people who face this health infection. For instance, elderly population groups are likely to suffer from pneumonia, liver injury, and heart diseases after being diagnosed with coronavirus. In turn, the majority of younger adults have the opportunity to overcome this disease without additional complications. Therefore, the elderly population should be educated regarding specific features of Covid-19 in the first place.

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Introduction

To provide information accurately, health providers should develop strategies that take into consideration possible barriers to the education of individuals 50 years old and older. They include physical and mental health issues, as well as long-standing habits and patterns maintained by the elderly population. Thus, taking into account that the majority of coronavirus deaths have been adults 60 years and older, this age group requires a high-quality education regarding the prevention and treatment of the health disease.

Overview of Evidence-Based Project

It is essential to note that Covid-19 has abruptly become a severe health concern, thereby, requiring health providers to develop appropriate teaching strategies for patients in a short time. On the one hand, these teaching strategies do not differ from the ones developed for other diseases. On the other hand, the combination of global panic and the lack of awareness of coronavirus significantly complicate the process of educating people. Accordingly, this project is expected to provide evidence-based information regarding this disease and the most effective strategies for the treatment among older adults.

Problem Statement

Scientists, researchers, and healthcare providers have been working on the improvement of knowledge in the field of Covid-19 for almost a year. As a result, primary symptoms, prevention measures, and treatment plans for this health issue have become known in the whole world. However, there is still no effective vaccine that can be used to prevent people from suffering from coronavirus. Furthermore, the elderly population is at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality caused by this infection compared to younger adults. For example, approximately 80% of all deaths caused by Covid-19 are individuals 60 years and older (CDC, 2020). This indicator has been encouraging healthcare providers to pay a vast amount of attention to the health education of elderly population groups.

Also, when it comes to hospitalization, almost 90% of patients with coronavirus diagnoses are individuals in their 60s and older (CDC, 2020). To decrease these rates, healthcare providers recommend that the elderly population and their family members maintain basic recommendations related to the prevention of Covid-19. Taking into account that these strategies are not as effective as they are expected to be, it is important to improve the process of health education.

Purpose Statement: Project Goals, Project Development, and Project Learning Outcomes

It is predicted that this article can help achieve essential project goals and contribute to the improvement of the overall health status of the elderly population. The main project goals are enhancing clinicians’ ability to educate patients, as well as decreasing the mortality and morbidity rates of older adults. In turn, project development plays a prominent role, as it helps plan, organize, coordinate, and control the resources to accomplish specific goals. Hence, this project will be organized based on several important phases.

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The prevalence of the affected population, the main causes of this trend, and barriers to the education of the elderly population will be discussed in this paper. Moreover, this article is expected to provide information regarding the most effective approaches to teaching older adults taking into consideration their physical and psychological well-being. Given project learning outcomes, they are represented by the integration of obtained knowledge into medical practice and analysis of organizational aspects influencing vulnerable population groups. Accordingly, this project is expected to have a positive effect on the health status of the elderly population under the circumstances of a vast spread of the global pandemic.

Significance and Relevance to Practice

The significance and relevance of this project to practice are determined by the lack of previous research studies conducted on a similar topic. The deficit of theoretical material is the reason why numerous individuals of different population groups face complications of Covid-19. For instance, the global pandemic has affected the lives of over 40 million people in less than a year (CDC, 2020). Most victims of this health disease have been affected due to the lack of awareness of this infection. Therefore, it is important to spread information regarding Covid-19 and its specific features from the perspective of healthcare providers. In turn, the inability to serve this function is predicted to increase mortality and morbidity rates caused by a coronavirus.

Project Question

The main project questions of this article are related to the quality of functions served by healthcare providers. Therefore, the project question is:

  • What is the role of healthcare providers in the process of educating the elderly population regarding specific features of Covid-19?

The main body of the project will provide information regarding the importance of teaching the elderly population in terms of epidemiology, risk factors, prevention measures, and treatment of coronavirus.

Definition of Terms

  • Health promotion is the activity aimed to highlight the importance of health and encourage the global population to improve their psychical and psychological well-being.
  • The teaching-learning plan is the list of actions used to educate a specific group of the population about important issues.
  • The wellness concept is the mix of principles promoted by medical workers to contribute to the health of patients.
  • A health educator is an individual who works towards the goal to promote positive and healthy habits.
  • Psychological assessment is the assessment provided based on the psychological well-being of the patient to detect whether the individual suffers from mental health issues.
  • Psychomotor skills are skills related to muscular activities. They can be represented by driving a car, playing a musical instrument, or dancing to music.
  • The teaching strategy is a specific direction that is selected to provide useful information to the population.
  • The development level is the milestone achieved by the human being, which defines intellect and psychological opportunities.

Role of the Nurse Practitioner

Even though health educators require specific skills to provide accurate information to the patients, this function is frequently performed by nurse practitioners. It is essential to note that nurse practitioners serve a variety of functions, such as assessment and management of people, performing medical procedures, ordering tests, and prescribing medications. However, educating patients is one of the main activities performed by these professionals. It is estimated that nearly 90% of nurse practitioners practice this task with patients regularly (Manuals, 2017). It can be explained by the fact that the majority of patients self-diagnose themselves before making an appointment with a doctor. The enormous popularity of social media sources is the reason why people are affected by misinformation. Approximately 95% of all patients search the Internet before visiting a health provider (Manuals, 2017). Therefore, nurse practitioners are required to correct misinformation and offer patients the most effective treatment plans for their physical and mental health diseases.

Even though numerous patients fail to interpret the medical information correctly, nurse practitioners still recommend that people do research before going to the hospital. This action can help the patient understand if the specific symptoms should be treated by a doctor. In case the symptoms are not severe, the appropriate treatment can be provided with the help of mobile communication or the Internet.

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At the same time, in coronavirus regards, nurse practitioners recommend asking for medical help immediately. The symptoms of this disease can be confused with the symptoms of other diseases, such as flu, tonsillitis infection, or allergy. The healthcare provider is the only individual who can make an accurate diagnosis. However, the communication between the nurse practitioner and patients with Covid-19 symptoms should be based on several important rules proposed by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Today, nurse practitioners are required to wear cloth face coverings and use sanitizers with all patients in different settings. In turn, if the diagnosis of coronavirus is confirmed, a nurse practitioner is the first person who communicates with patients and provides care until the disease is over. Thus, in case of experience symptoms associated with Covid-19, patients should communicate with a local nurse practitioner who would guide them till the end of treatment.

Summary

It is a well-known fact that Covid-19 can cause severe health complications, especially for individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. The majority of patients diagnosed with these diseases are individuals 60 years old and older. Therefore, there is a vast demand for educating the elderly population in terms of coronavirus and its specific features. Simultaneously, older adults frequently cope with considerable changes in their lives, including the loss of loved ones, as well as physical and mental health issues. In turn, the inability of older patients to perceive the provided information with the same level of enthusiasm and understanding as younger adults create numerous difficulties for health educators. These difficulties usually determine the approach used by health educators to provide specific information to the patients.

Health educators take into consideration 3 types of changes experienced by older adults before teaching them about various health issues, including Covid-19. These groups are called physical changes, psychological changes, and socio-cultural changes (Golinowska et al., 2016). Given physical changes, patients 50 years old and older frequently face problems associated with hearing, seeing, feeling, and responding skills. In general, the entire body system can be negatively impacted, although this process depends on genetics. At the same time, psychological changes have an enormous effect on the organisms as well, which can be explained by a high number of stressors that surround people throughout their lives. For instance, the decline in functional ability and the death of a family member is considered the main life stressors in late adulthood. Subsequently, psychological changes are represented by issues related to memory, learning, and problem-solving.

However, taking into consideration that the elderly population has considerable life experience, this population group is capable of perceiving different types of information. Furthermore, health educators pay attention to the losses of older adults. These individuals are more likely to face the loss of loved ones, job positions, and confidence, than younger adults (Mendonça et al., 2017). As a result, their self-esteem and self-confidence become considerable barriers to maintaining positive health status. The lack of motivation to live a healthy and full life is the reason why the elderly population frequently ignores the recommendations of health educators. Lastly, socio-cultural changes are predicted to create barriers to health educators as well. It can be explained by the fact that the majority of individuals 60 years and older are not self-independent. Today, it is the reason why they avoid communication with health providers and health educators. Each older adult should be able to gain independence to seek medical help and prevent potential health issues, such as coronavirus.

Nowadays, specific teaching strategies should take into account all the barriers mentioned above. Therefore, the majority of health educators develop these strategies based on recommendations provided by various health organizations. For instance, the information related to Covid-19 should be provided to individuals with a hearing deficiency in an appropriate manner. Whether people have completely lost this sense or decreased its sensitivity, they should be able to analyze the provided information. Thus, health educators usually use the combination of various alternatives, such as sign language, visual representation, or written information (Carvalho et al., 2018). In turn, if the individuals struggle with visual deficiencies, health educators use a mix of several interventions. For example, the informational material should be provided orally to make it understandable for every person in the group. Taking into account that the elderly population perceives oral information better than other types of information, it is essential to duplicate the written text with voice-over.

Also, individuals with deficiencies in smell and taste do not experience significant issues in the process of learning new information, although these health barriers play a prominent role in the detection of symptoms of Covid-19. As researchers state, one of the most noticeable symptoms of coronavirus is the lack of sense of smell and taste (CDC, 2020). Once these symptoms are detected, the individuals make an appointment with a doctor to test whether their health is affected by this infection. Simultaneously, the elderly population with deficiencies in taste and small does not have the opportunity to detect the symptoms of Covid-19 in the early stages. Accordingly, health educators tend to highlight this fact and provide special recommendations to individuals with these defects. For example, older adults should pay attention to other important symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, cough, sore throat, and headache.

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Moreover, people with mental health issues should be served with a unique teaching approach. It is usually recommended to organize several short training sessions instead of a single long session (McCombe et al., 2018). Most frequently, four sessions of 15 minutes are expected to be more beneficial than a 1-hour session, as the partial perception of information is more useful for individuals with psychological issues.

Additionally, health educators should pay attention to various types of communication with older adults who face mental health issues. The mix of written information, oral presentation, and simple games is a perfect way to spread information regarding health problems among the elderly population. Furthermore, despite the audience, each health educator is required to select the most appropriate health behavior model to provide information. For example, the health belief model is beneficial for encouraging the elderly population to prevent potential health issues rather than treat them. It is the most suitable model in terms of Covid-19, as it can help decrease the mortality and morbidity rates among older adults. Taking into account that the majority of reported coronavirus deaths cases are individuals 60 years and older, this model has considerable relevance.

Moreover, health educators frequently use the theory of reasoned action. This theory is based on the idea to define the determinants of health behavior. When it comes to Covid-19, this theory can be used to understand how the intention to adopt a specific behavior is associated with the spread of infection among older adults (Arevalo & Brown, 2019). At the same time, social cognitive theory helps health educators determine connections between the beliefs of elderly individuals regarding Covid-19 and the way these thoughts impact their behavior. As a result, when the beliefs of older adults are filled with evidence-based coronavirus information, their actions are expected to correspond to recommendations related to its prevention.

In conclusion, it is essential to note that Covid-19 has had an enormous effect on the well-being of individuals in different parts of the world. Simultaneously, older adults belong to the population group with the highest risk of coronavirus complications. Therefore, these individuals require the most comprehensive teaching approach from the perspectives of healthcare providers. Health educators develop specific teaching strategies for this population group, as it is associated with a variety of barriers to understanding and analyzing information. For instance, the majority of older adults face physical and mental health issues that significantly lower their quality of life. These issues include hearing deficiency, visual deficiency, as well as deficiencies in smell and taste. When it comes to mental health issues, they are usually represented by depression and anxiety in this population group. As a result, health educators tend to use various methods to facilitate the process of understanding. These methods consist of additional sign language, written communication, visual representation, and oral explanation of the provided information. To serve the functions of educating the elderly population, health educators take into account, various health models. The health belief model contributes to the development of effective preventative measures, whereas the theory of reasoned action is beneficial for highlighting important health determinants. It is predicted that the development of teaching strategies based on suggested improvement can help decrease the mortality and morbidity rates related to Covid-19. Even though there is a lack of evidence-based information regarding specific features of coronavirus and its effect on the human bodies of older adults, its spread can be regulated with an appropriate education.

References

Arevalo, M., & Brown, L. (2019). Using a reasoned action approach to identify determinants of organized exercise among Hispanics: A mixed-methods study. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 1-10.

Carvalho, K., Silva, C., Figueiredo, M., Nogueira, L., & Andrade, E. (2018). Educational interventions for the health promotion of the elderly: Integrative review. Acta Paulista De Enfermagem, 31(4), 446-454.

CDC. (2020). Coronavirus disease. Web.

Golinowska, S., Groot, W., Baji, P., & Pavlova, M. (2016). Health promotion targeting older people. BMC Health Services Research, 16 (S5), 1-10.

Manuals, M. (2017). Nurse practitioners double as med info decoders for patients.

McCombe, G., Fogarty, F., Swan, D., Hannigan, A., Fealy, G., & Kyne, L. (2018). Identified mental disorders in older adults in primary care: A cross-sectional database study. European Journal of General Practice, 24(1), 84-91.

Mendonça, F., Santos, Á., Buso, A., & Malaquias, B. (2017). Health education with older adults: Action research with primary care professionals. Revista Brasileira De Enfermagem, 70(4), 792-799.

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NerdyTom. 2022. "COVID-19 Teaching Project in the Elderly Population." June 17, 2022. https://nerdytom.com/covid-19-teaching-project-in-the-elderly-population/.

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