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Geriatric Patients - Challenges & Opportunities

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Mar 8th 2012 11:32am - By Ilana Mendels VetPrac

Veterinary Nurse Workshop - VetPracAs a GP I find geriatric cases quite difficult to manage.

There are often multiple conditions to balance out and consider and many clients believe the pet is “just old” and it's normal for them to deteriorate, and experience pain. I don’t think that they realise what that means for the animal and I spend a long time with my clients explaining and advocating on behalf of the animal for palliative care. This can be challenging for the most experienced vet and reaches into our ability to communicate as well as make good clinical decisions.

Geriatric animals are becoming a larger part of our treatment group in practice. I remember starting as a vet 10 years ago and hearing people’s surprise if their animal lived past 8yrs in country NSW. They told stories of pets living till 15 years of age. Now days, it’s common for them to live even longer and this is testimony to the excellent care they receive from veterinary health care teams and their owners. I also think the RTA and council laws regarding restraint probably help too. Interestingly, dogs in the wild and stray populations only live around 4 to 6 years maximum.

But it’s also presented a new area of consideration. We have geriatric animals whose bodies are not as able to manage disease, injury and stress with the strength of an adult animal. And we all need to learn ways to manage their specific needs as well. That’s why this hands-on geriatric patient workshop designed especially for nurses is a perfect opportunity for your team to develop skills that can be applied immediately in your practice.

Nurses are perfectly placed within the veterinary hospital to facilitate the care of geriatric patients. And knowing that I have the support of a good nursing team helps me to provide better care to the patient. Nurses have skills in bandaging, catheter care and technical activities like blood pressure monitoring which need constant attention for geriatric patients. Nurses know the veterinary terms to liaise with the owner in a sometimes less technical way, while the vet focuses on the multiple disease processes that might be at play.

Times are changing and we need to keep up…

For more information on our intensive 2 day practical 'Geriatric Patient Workshop' especially designed for your nurses visit for more details.  Due to the hands on nature of this workshop places are strictly limited.


Ilana Mendels is the founder of VetPrac which provides skills training for registered veterinarians and veterinary nurses in clinical practice.  Their courses are designed by veterinary health care teams for veterinary health care professionals.They are run in small groups with a very high tutor to attendee ratio. Interactive lectures are supported by intensive wet-lab sessions to ensure that all methods can be attempted and improved upon in a safe educational environment.

VetPrac will help you build confidence and improve your practical skills.

VetPrac - practical training for veterinarians and veterinary nurses


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