Development of Patient Education for Older Adults Receiving Chemotherapy

Ann Shields Rigdon

Patient education, geriatric nursing
CJON 2010, 14(4), 433-441. DOI: 10.1188/10.CJON.433-441

The diagnosis of cancer is a significant and often overwhelming event. Older adults may have age-related physical and cognitive changes in addition to the stresses of cancer diagnosis and treatment. The combination can present significant barriers to learning readiness in older adults who choose chemotherapy. Older adults receiving chemotherapy need to learn self-care for risks such as neutropenia; however, patient teaching materials typically are not developed with consideration for this group of learners. This article reviews the current literature on effective chemotherapy patient education, the physical and cognitive changes related to aging learners, and strategies appropriate for teaching older adults. As described in this article, best practices were synthesized from the literature, and educational materials for teaching basic chemotherapy safety practices to older adults were developed. The materials then were pilot tested with a select group of older adults receiving chemotherapy, and their feedback was incorporated into recommendations for future research and practice.

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