What Are the Responsibilities of a Gerontological Rehabilitation Nurse?

What Are the Responsibilities of a Gerontological Rehabilitation Nurse?

The gerontological rehabilitation nurse role description was formulated by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) to recognize and explain the responsibilities of rehabilitation nurses that take care of elderly patients. It also ensures that they are acting in accordance with the predetermined Scope and Standards of Rehabilitation Nursing Practice.

Gerontological rehabilitation nursing is a specialty practice that is specifically tailored to the requirements of elderly rehabilitation patients. It recognizes three categories: the young old (65-74 years), the middle old (75-84 years), and the oldest old, or frail elderly (85+ years) (Schrier, 1990). 

Presently, one in eight Americans are aged 65 or older. It is estimated that the frailest elderly are the fastest-growing demographic, and by 2050, 20% of Americans (88 million people) will be above 65 years. In light of this data, rehabilitation nurses should be prepared to address the needs of an ever-increasing older population.

Rehabilitation nurses specializing in gerontology take into account the changes that come with age as well as any functional impairments brought on by injury or disease when they devise a plan of care for an individual. 

Factors to consider as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner

Culture and education are intimately intertwined. Education is responsible for transmitting and preserving culture from one generation to the next, and culture shapes the way that we think about and understand the world around us. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the relationship between culture and education in order to better understand our society.

In order to provide suitable care for the elderly, it is essential for a gerontological rehabilitation nurse to comprehend and elicit the values, goals, attitudes and beliefs of older individuals that relate to their health, illnesses and general living conditions.


Gerontological rehabilitation nurses strive to promote physical, mental and psychosocial wellbeing for their elderly clients. They also ensure that their environment is safe and secure. Their main objective is to do their best to help seniors reach their peak level of health.

Environment of practice

Gerontological rehabilitation nurses may be found providing services across a wide range of care settings, such as hospitals, free-standing rehabilitation units, skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities, home health agencies, clinics and governmental organizations. 

Nurses may choose to pursue gerontological rehabilitation nursing in the classroom, through teaching, or by conducting research at the nursing school or university level. Universities such as Baylor University offer online courses for those who want to become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist. Advanced education, such as this course, equips one with the knowledge and skills to promote patient-centered care and provide transformative healthcare.  


The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) publishes the Standards and Scope of Rehabilitation Nursing Practice, to which gerontological rehab nurses must adhere. Furthermore, the Specialty Practice of Rehabilitation Nursing core curriculum features a section dedicated to gerontological nursing, while ARN position statements offer guidance and information on rehabilitation topics. Every rehabilitation practicing nurse, healthcare administrator and nurse manager must adhere to and use these guidelines. 

Responsibilities of a gerontological rehabilitation nurse

The specialized role of a gerontological rehabilitation nurse involves a variety of duties that require specialized knowledge and skills in the field. This type of nurse is responsible for providing care to elderly individuals who are recovering from physical or emotional injuries. They must assess the patient’s medical needs, provide therapy and support, and create a rehabilitation plan that is tailored to their unique needs. 

They must coordinate with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the patient’s rehabilitation plan is properly implemented and monitored. The gerontological rehabilitation nurse is also responsible for educating the patient and their family on how to best manage their condition and the aftercare that is required. As a gerontological rehabilitation nurse, one can assume a multitude of roles, such as those discussed below.

Be an advocate

The gerontological rehabilitation nurse fights for the privileges of the elderly and attempts to break down the misconceptions concerning aging.

Working in a clinical role

A gerontological rehabilitation nurse is an expert in the healthcare of aging adults, which entails assessing and recognizing issues; designing, intervening in, and evaluating care; and taking part in an interdisciplinary plan of care. Clinical nursing practitioners are employed in a medical setting, with the purpose of providing care to patients. This type of work usually involves diagnosing and treating illnesses, as well as other health-related concerns. Clinical nursing practitioners may also be involved in providing preventive care and helping to educate patients on how to maintain their health. 


The gerontological rehabilitation nurse educator encourages healthy aging habits and works to avert disability. They provide tailored education to their clients and their families. The nurse must stay up to date on the latest information in their field through in-service learning, continuing education and formal secondary training. Networking with other gerontological rehabilitation nurses to exchange ideas and experiences can expand their professional practice. Additionally, they can inform the public about aging by giving talks and writing articles on the subject.

Nursing manager

A gerontological nurse manager must possess management skills to effectively provide patient care in different healthcare settings. They must also be knowledgeable about federal and state regulations, funding for elder care programs, and quality assurance and improvement. Furthermore, they should be familiar with accreditation regulations from organizations such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.


The gerontological rehabilitation nurse consultant serves to guide other healthcare professionals in the creation of programs that are pertinent to the elderly population. Examples of these programs include pressure ulcer prevention and care, as well as clinical issues such as Alzheimer’s disease.


The gerontological rehabilitation nurse researcher’s role is to explore new ideas and advancements related to gerontological rehabilitation nursing care and clients. They then share the findings with other healthcare professionals by giving talks at continuing education programs and publishing articles in professional journals.


As we conclude, keep in mind that to succeed as a geriatric nurse, you have to enjoy working with old people. Be patient and listen to them attentively. It is also necessary to balance the needs of the family and those of the patient, as these sometimes conflict.

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