Nurses have “co-existing” positive and negative attitudes to caring for older people and are influenced by widespread ageism in societies, international research suggests.
With the world’s older population - those aged over 60 - predicted to increase from about 12% in 2013 to 21% by 2050, according to the United Nations, caring for the elderly is one of the big challenges facing most societies, noted the research authors.
Older adults are more likely to experience multiple chronic health conditions and require more support for everyday life than younger people, they said.
“Attitudes towards older people care are complex and contradictory”
Research paper on nurse attitudes to older people
But relatively little is known about nurses’ attitudes to older patients, added the paper, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
US researchers at the University of British Columbia’s school of nursing analysed 67 international studies to find out nurses’ views on caring for older people.
The results showed nurses had both positive and negative attitudes toward older patients.
Negative attitudes included perceptions of older patients being demanding, time-consuming and a burden.
According to the authors these attitudes reflected “pervasive ageism”, and the challenges and difficulties nurses experienced in caring for these patients.
Care for the elderly may be improved by creating “age-friendly” work environments, the research suggested.
“Attitudes towards older people care are complex and contradictory,” concluded the paper, called Nurses’ Attitudes Towards Older People Care: An Integrative Review.
“Influences on nurses’ attitudes need further study individually and collectively to build a strong evidence base,” it said.