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To meet the needs of a large aging population, nurses in particular must “identify strategies to allow older adults to live independently for as long as possible; provide health care and education for older adults who are self-managing multiple chronic illnesses; ensure that older adults in long-term care settings receive high-quality care,” says Patricia A. D., RN, of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

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According to experts at Kansas State University, improved public health and clinical care have led to an increase in the average life span, meaning that by the year 2020 more than 20 percent of the population will be age 65 or older.

In fact, individuals over the age of 85 make up the fastest-growing group.

This will lead to extended treatment of long-term chronic conditions, challenging the healthcare system’s ability to provide efficient care.

Such changes in the population are significant for nurses.

Nursing practice, education and perspectives must adapt and respond to changing demographics because nurses play an increasingly important role in healthcare delivery.

As the baby boomer generation ages, the number of older adults in the United States is expected to increase exponentially.Combine this with a longer average life span, and the healthcare system needs to adapt — quickly.In addition, the diversity of the general population is a relevant topic on the minds of many nurses.Because multiculturalism affects the nature of illness and disease as well as morbidity and mortality, nurses must learn to adapt their practice to various cultural values and beliefs.Relevant factors include national origin, religious affiliation, language, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, socioeconomic status and more.Understanding cultural diversity is becoming a daily responsibility for many nurses.