Geriatric Oncology Resources

February 2024 Vol 15, No 2 —February 22, 2024
Sharon S. Gentry, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, AOCN, CBCN
Program Director, AONN+

Life expectancy in the United States is increasing, and parallel to this will be an increase in the number of older adults with cancer. The need for oncology services driven by the aging of the US population conflicts with the shortage of physicians and nurses. Another need for the aging population is access to a geriatrics-trained workforce. The supply of geriatricians has increased, but demand for their services will grow more steeply.

Creative ways are being developed to address these shortages by allowing more healthcare professionals to train and practice with less school debt. Several professional organizations have created training to increase knowledge specific to the healthcare needs of older patients with cancer by using subject matter experts/educators in the field of geriatric oncology patient management.

The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators created a Geriatric Cancer Care Toolkit for oncology nurses and patient navigators that addresses geriatric oncology and health equity considerations. This resource provides helpful information as it explores the principles (physical, psychosocial, cultural, spiritual, and socioeconomic), healthcare disparities, nutritional considerations, and caretaking of geriatric oncology patients. “Notes for Navigators” highlights key care points for this golden generation.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology updated recommendations from 2018 with a revised Practical Assessment and Management of Vulnerabilities in Older Patients Receiving Systemic Cancer Therapy. This group noted that a geriatric assessment to evaluate vulnerabilities associated with cancer treatment, although a key priority, was not widespread practice and added a Practical Geriatric Assessment tool that can be completed in 10 minutes.

American Geriatrics Society has a plethora of programs helping to embed geriatrics expertise in broader care for older adults for all healthcare professionals and professional journals. The Multidisciplinary Approaches to Caring for Older Adults with Cancer project can be found on the Association of Cancer Community Centers website and includes best practices with practical resources to improve the level of care for the geriatric population.

As the geriatric oncology population survives and thrives, we as professionals can increase supportive care and help minimize the side effects of oncology care for this growing population.

That's My Take.
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Last modified: February 22, 2024

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