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Posted: August 30th, 2023

The Nurse’s Role in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Older Adults

Describe and discuss the nurse’s role in health promotion and disease prevention in older adults.
The Nurse’s Role in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Older Adults

As the population ages, nurses have a vital role in promoting health and preventing disease among older adults. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health promotion is “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health”. Disease prevention is “measures not only to prevent the occurrence of disease, such as risk factor reduction, but also to arrest its progress and reduce its consequences once established”.

Health promotion and disease prevention can help older adults maintain their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being, as well as their independence and quality of life. Nurses can support healthy ageing by providing education, counselling, screening, immunization, referral and follow-up services to older adults and their families.

Some of the key areas that nurses can focus on are:

– Chronic disease management: Nurses can help older adults manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis and dementia by providing self-care education, medication management, lifestyle modification, symptom monitoring and coordination of care with other health professionals.
– Falls prevention: Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among older adults. Nurses can assess the risk factors for falls, such as poor vision, balance problems, medication side effects, environmental hazards and cognitive impairment, and provide interventions to reduce the risk, such as exercise programs, home modifications, assistive devices and medication review.
– Nutrition and hydration: Older adults may have nutritional deficiencies due to reduced appetite, dental problems, chronic diseases, medication interactions or social isolation. Nurses can assess the nutritional status of older adults, provide dietary advice, monitor hydration and refer to other services such as meal delivery or community dining programs.
– Mental health: Older adults may experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness or grief due to life transitions, losses, chronic illnesses or cognitive decline. Nurses can screen for mental health problems, provide emotional support, counselling, psychoeducation and referral to mental health services or support groups.
– Social engagement: Social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased morbidity and mortality among older adults. Nurses can encourage older adults to participate in social activities that suit their interests, abilities and preferences, such as volunteering, hobbies, clubs or religious groups. Nurses can also link older adults with community resources that can provide social support, such as senior centers or home visitors.

Nurses play a significant role in promoting older Australians’ functional, physical,
social engagement and mental wellness and providing high quality safe care. Nurses should be educated and professionally prepared to identify and challenge stereotypes that promote ageist attitudes . Nurses also play a key role in the identification and mandatory reporting of elder abuse . Older Australians with diverse characteristics and life experiences have equitable access to information and services to meet their individual needs .

By applying their knowledge and skills in health promotion and disease prevention,
nurses can make a positive difference in the lives of older adults and their families.


: World Health Organization. (1998). Health promotion glossary. Geneva: WHO.

: Australian College of Nursing. (2019). The role of nurses in promoting healthy ageing. Position statement. Retrieved from https://www.acn.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/position-statement-role-nurse-in-promoting-healthy-ageing.pdf

: Colorado Technical University. (n.d.). Nurses’ roles in health promotion and disease prevention. Retrieved from https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/studies/nursing/articles/roles-health-promotion-disease-prevention

: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Promoting health for older adults. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/promoting-health-for-older-adults.htm

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