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Advancing Care Excellence for Seniors

Geriatric Syndromes

Overview of Teaching Strategies

These teaching strategies can be adapted to a variety of ways: used in clinical or classroom settings; utilized with actual or simulated scenarios; and designed for both beginning and advanced nursing courses.

Learning Objectives
Using these strategies, the student will:

  • Describe the geriatric syndrome(s) affecting the patient.
  • Explore the complexity of care associated with the identified geriatric syndromes.
  • Develop a coordinated plan of care for an older adult with a geriatric syndrome.
  • Explain how the geriatric syndrome increases the older adult's vulnerability during transitions in care settings.

Getting Started
These teaching strategies focusing on assessment and use of evolving knowledge enhance the student's spirit of inquiry and development of professional judgment.

A. Concept Map: Utilize a concept map approach to illustrate the effect geriatric syndromes are having on the health and healing of a selected patient. Have the student identify the geriatric syndromes that are being experienced by the selected patient and then show the impact on this patient and family using information gathered during an assessment of the patient's function and expectations.

B. Interview and Case Study: Assign the student to interview an older adult, either a well elder in the community or a patient in a care setting. Have the student write a one-page case study about this individual including information about the geriatric syndromes the student identified during the interview. This case study can then be shared with fellow students either through discussion or role play.

C. Impact Paper: Assign the students to write a short paper in which they discuss the impact the identified geriatric syndrome is having on the health of the person, on coordination of care, and on the patient's family.

D. Role Play: Have students assume the role of a person who is living with a geriatric syndrome. Acting as the patient, the student would describe how the geriatric syndrome has affected the patient's function, expectations, and care. Consider how transitioning from one care setting to another could be managed to provide competent, individualized, and humanistic care.


A. Case Study: Maria Diaz

Click here to download an audio file.
Click here to download the script for the audio file.
B. Assessment Tools, the website of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University's College of Nursing, contains many evidence-based assessment tools. Those listed below from the Try This:® and How to Try This Series are particularly recommended for the content on geriatric syndromes. The tool, an article about using the tool, and a video illustrating the use of the tool, are all available for your use. The SPICES tool is listed first, since it is an overall assessment tool; the remaining tools are listed in alphabetical order. Click here to view the list.

C. Suggested Readings D. ACES Essential Nursing Actions

  • Assess Function and Expectations
  • Use Evolving Knowledge
E. NLN Education Competencies
  • Nursing Judgment
  • Spirit of Inquiry
F. Author Information




Copyright © 2010 National League for Nursing

Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education