Attitudes toward the aged: A study of senior nursing students and faculty members in baccalaureate, associate degree, and vocational programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth complex
The increased life expectancy of the American population as a result of technological advances and subsequent changes in health care and prevention of disease has brought the nursing profession face to face with the problem of providing adequate health care to the aged. To further aggravate the problem, the passage of the Social Security Amendments of 1965--Medicare and Medicaid--made new provisions for financing health care costs of the aged. As a result, there was a sharp increase in the number of older patients coming under the care of nurses working in the various health agencies. This data was revealed in surveys that were taken in the late sixties which indicated that 25 to 40 per cent of patients in general hospitals were age 65 and over (Moses, 1967).
Schwartz (Rossman, 1971) stated that when the aged constitute a large proportion of the population and the economy is industrialized it becomes a social burden to find the manpower to provide adequate nursing care, and the elderly tend to be regarded as an economic and personal handicap. The United States is faced with this situation since the aged constitute 10 per cent of the population.
Since the aged are the second fastest increasing age group in the United States, the nursing profession must take action to increase the number of practitioners who are prepared and willing to work with the aged. Because of the need to channel new graduates into the field of geriatrics, an attitudinal study was undertaken by this investigator in order to gain insight into the attitudes of senior nursing students and faculty members toward the aged patient.