The concept of population vulnerability depends on the field of interest. In health, vulnerable populations are those susceptible to different diseases. Essentially, people from low-income families, often malnourished and exposed, the elderly, and those with inherent pre-existing conditions are considerably defenseless to illnesses. These groups have suppressed immunity and may face challenges seeking healthcare services. Comparatively, the response trends portrayed by these clusters may defer depending on the prevailing conditions.
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The elderly people in the United States are deemed as being vulnerable owing to their relative likelihood to suffer disproportionality in the event of a disaster or disease outbreak compared to the younger population. The frail health of elderly persons is a core basis of their vulnerability status. The specific challenge that they face includes low immunity and susceptibility to new infections such as Covid-19. According to Willink et al. (2016), eighty-seven percent of those above 65 years have one or more chronic conditions, and 67 percent of this population have two or more chronic illnesses. In the United States, approximately one in every seven Americans is an older person, with the data indicating that 15.2 percent of the overall population constitutes the elderly aged 65+ (Vespa et al., 2018). The inability to advocate for them justifies the need for nursing advocacy.
The physical and cognitive conditions of older adults tend to limit their ability to advocate for themselves. For example, they are shy about asking questions related to the care that they need or requesting a specific medical intervention that is in their best interest. In some cases, they are not comfortable with the full symptoms of their illness, which could be leading to the wrong diagnosis of their condition. Nursing advocacy would then be beneficial to the elderly by enabling the health professional to conceptualize effectively. Likewise, it will help nurses understand the health status of the patients and the coordination of treatment through the ethical and professional engagement of the elderly patients in taking the option of the health intervention, ideal and relevant to their diagnosed state. Notably, the ethical issues that must be considered when working with the elderly include informed consent and respect for the patient’s autonomy.
Vespa, J., Armstrong, D. M., & Medina, L. (2018). Demographic turning points for the United States: Population projections for 2020 to 2060. Web.
Willink, A., Davis, K., & Schoen, C. (2016). Risks for nursing home placement and Medicaid entry among older medicare beneficiaries with physical or cognitive impairment. The Commonwealth Fund. Web.