The Aging Brain

From my journal…

September 2005 – Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

I am enjoying my new job immensely working as a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner in a 500-bed nursing home providing primary care to 64 patients currently. It is like a breath of fresh air compared to working for the insurance company in the same facility. I am also feeling much better physically since I only work four days per week again and have every Friday off. I volunteered to work the late shift so my hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The rest of the providers leave between 4 and 5 p.m. so I cover the entire home for emergencies until the night shift doctor arrives at 6 p.m. I like these hours better because I don’t need to get up as early, avoid driving in rush hour, eat lunch and dinner in the cafeteria, and get out in time to attend evening activities at my church. The food in the cafeteria is healthy and inexpensive so it also cuts down on my grocery bills.

I cover one locked dementia unit, and two unlocked long-term care units. I enjoy sharing an office with three other nurse practitioners. because we discuss our most difficult patients and swap ideas. We dictate all our notes to live transcriptionists who type our notes and put them in the cue for us to proofread and correct any mistakes before it goes into the electronic record permanently. Generally, their accuracy is good. This large nursing home even has a small restaurant, gift shop, auditorium for programs, boardroom, and beautiful grounds for walking at lunchtime on good weather days. Their monthly continuing education for all the providers is an added benefit. I work with three different physicians who all enjoy sharing their expertise with me.

Dr. R., the medical director, meets with each provider privately once a month to review our productivity goals and discuss any concerns we may have. He is the kindest and best boss I have ever had. This preventive type of management style works so much better than the authoritarian critical style I have had for much of my career. So far, he said I’m doing a good job and meeting all my monthly goals. How I thank God for giving me this job with this wonderful schedule.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (KJV)

The Aging Brain

Another job benefit is 4 days and $1200 annually to attend continuing education outside of the facility. I attended an interesting seminar yesterday entitled “The Aging Brain” taught by a geriatrician. The research shows that people who keep their brains active, exercise, socialize, and eat a healthy diet helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease (memory loss). Since my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s, this is of particular interest to me. Daily, I sadly witness the decline of my patients with end-stage dementia.

Ways to keep one’s brain active is to travel because you are constantly problem solving and meeting new people. Learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, teaching, and aerobic exercise also stimulates the brain. For people who live alone like me, it’s important to participate in regular social activities to prevent isolation. Eating healthy foods like blueberries, salmon, sweet potatoes, and other colorful fruits and vegetables is important.

Blueberries are good for brain health.

After hearing this seminar, I will definitely continue to travel, continue painting, and play my violin more often. I’m glad I see my friends at church several times weekly. Guarding against isolation is my biggest challenge.



1 thought on “The Aging Brain”

  1. Your note on aging brain is very useful. It applies to me very much, as I too live alone. I must ”continue to travel” And if possible practice my Spanish sincerely.

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