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Registration for the Fall 2019 semester begins June 25.  Watch your email for more details.

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Psychiatric Nursing and the Older Adult

Course Code: PNUR 3403
Faculty: Health Sciences
Department: Nursing - Psychiatric
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Students will develop an understanding of the complexity, rewards and challenges of working with the older adult in the context of primary and secondary health care delivery systems. Theories of aging and expected developmental paths, along with de-mystification of long-held beliefs about aging will be examined. Students will develop an understanding of the challenges faced by older adults living in the community, as well as those residing in care facilities. In addition, students will acquire knowledge of treatment modalities and psychiatric nursing care related to mental health and physiological challenges facing the older adult with a focus on specific exemplars such as Alzheimer’s disease, delirium, depression, neglect abuse, and pharmacology. The student will understand the significance of the family and loved ones in planning care for the older adult. The role of the psychiatric nurse in providing care for the older adult at all levels of intervention/prevention will be explored within the context of the Douglas College Psychiatric Nursing Conceptual Framework for Nursing and psychosocial rehabilitation concepts. Ethical and legal implications will be discussed as well as issues of caregiver support and the needs of individuals, families, friends, and nurses working with older adult patients confronting end-of-life concerns.

Course Content


Describe the diversity of the older adult population group, along with pertinent facts and trends regarding:

  • common concerns
  • demographics, politics and power
  • economics & education
  • definitions of aging, along with myths and falsely-held beliefs and attitudes
  • aging through history, theories of aging and models of care for the older adult
  • development and aging


Explain the range of nursing roles and an understanding of:

  • the development of gerontological nursing
  • principles and standards guiding gerontological nursing
  • roles in acute and long term care settings as well as ones in the community
  • primary, secondary and tertiary intervention as prevention in both community and inpatient setting
  • discharge planning
  • psychosocial rehabilitation concepts, environmental concerns
  • psychiatric nurses as case/care managers


Identify and utilize key concepts related to how:

  • how older adults learn, memory
  • to plan care for the older adult, understanding that elder care is a specialized area of practice
  • the nurse’s attitude and the client’s attitude influence assessments and care of the older adult
  • language  and sensory deficits can affect communication and care
  • to deal with issues related to social supports, sexuality and spirituality
  • to assist the older adult in developing strategies to avoid falls and other safety hazards through the use of prevention as intervention as a strategy
  • to assist the older adult in developing strategies to prevent isolation and inactivity


Describe and implement concepts and skills related to:

  • identification of depression
  • identification of delirium
  • therapeutic environment, communication and socialization in inpatient settings
  • appropriate nutrition, hydration regiments
  • avoiding polypharmacy and drug-food interactions
  • devising ways to ensure the older adult meets his/her sleep and rest requirements
  • being able to teach stress reduction techniques to the older adult as well as be able to convey the importance of stress reduction to health living
  • reducing risks for falls, along with identification and prevention of risk factors


For the exemplar of Dementia; Demonstrate a clear understanding of:

  • the needs of the caregiver
  • the strengths and stressors of the caregiver
  • the trajectory of different caregivers’ experiences
  • support systems for caregivers
  • one example of community partnerships and caregivers


Describe and analyze:

  • pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics in relation to the aged
  • age-related risk factors and adverse reactions to drugs and substances
  • polypharmacy and the aged, along with food and drug interactions
  • prevention of drug and substance abuse
  • alternatives to drugs and other chemicals – teaching and learning
  • how to respond to drug and substance misuse and abuse
  • effective use of selected techniques and tools in substance use assessment


Appreciation and implementation of nursing interventions with respect to:

  • patient rights
  • a values history
  • the role of  informed consent as well as advanced directives and representation agreements
  • research and consent of older adults engaged in research
  • restraints
  • elder abuse and neglect; along with the prevention of abuse and neglect


Describe and utilize knowledge and interventions pertaining to:

  • student’s own experiences with death and end-of-life issues
  • family experiences with death and end-of-life concerns
  • psychiatric nurses working with individuals facing end-of-life issues
  • physical, psychological, emotional, developmental and spiritual needs of the dying patient
  • the variety of settings where care for dying individuals can be provided

Methods of Instruction

Students will acquire knowledge and skill and learn to apply concepts through a variety of means of instruction and activities, including: lecture, demonstration, audio-visual aids, case studies, debate forums, critical thinking exercises and teamwork. 

Means of Assessment

The course evaluation is consistent with Douglas College evaluation policy.  An evaluation schedule is presented at the beginning of the course.
This is a graded course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course the learner will be able to:

  • Describe who makes up the gerontological population and confront discrimination of the elderly through the examination of long-held, inappropriate myths, beliefs and ageism.
  • Articulate theoretical frameworks of aging and models for working with the elderly.
  • Explain normal development and aging, along with some selected pathological changes that may occur.
  • Consider the range of nursing roles in gerontology
  • Understand and utilize new data collection and documentation skills, specifically designed for the older adult within the context of the Neuman Systems Model for Nursing.
  • Understand the therapeutic and preventative measures needed for elders and the environments they live in, including hydration and nutrition, fall prevention and socialization.
  • Integrate key theory and practice for individuals that present with exemplars such as: dementia, Alzheimer’s, delirium, substance misuse, neglect and abuse of all kinds, as well as depression, pharmacological considerations and others.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the key role that psychiatric nurses can play in caregiver support.
  • Work knowledgeably and sensitively with families, friends and nurses who have to deal with end-of-life concerns. 

course prerequisites

PNUR 3301, PNUR 3321, PNUR 3330, PNUR 3350, PNUR 3361


PNUR 3401, PNUR 3421, PNUR 3430, PNUR 3441 PNUR 3462


PNUR 4503

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.