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Family Health Nursing

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Family Health Nursing

Charles Mertz

University of Phoenix

Concepts of Family Nursing Theory

NUR 464

Glenda Tali, MSN, RN

Aug 08, 2006

Family Health Nursing

With rapid changes in healthcare, increasing cost, the overall demand for and limit of medical care, and decreasing capability of patients to afford health insurance it has become increasingly important on assessing patients for their risk factors, medical problems, and other health issues. One area that can help is by incorporating patient's families into the fold by family health nursing. The health of one family member and his or her quality of life can affect the rest of the family and therefore are closely related (Friedman, Bowden, & Jones, 2003). This paper will explore family health nursing by focusing on four areas. First, it will explain why the family is an important area for the nurse to include while assessing and caring for a patient. The paper will also mention how families have changed within the last few decades and what might constitute a family in today's society. Finally, this paper will give an insight of what my definition of family health nursing is in today's healthcare community. With shorter hospital stays families are needed to know just as much as the patient does when it comes to his or her healthcare plan and therefore the family becomes an important focus along with the patient for various reasons.

Assessment of family dynamics can bring an understanding on how the family lives and can help in developing the best possible medical treatment for the patient. According to Anderson (2000), the nurse has a role in helping families "to implement needed adjustment and adaptation, thus facilitating family symptom management, individual and family growth, family understanding, and promotion or improvement in family health". (Anderson, 2000) Studies have shown that a family can influence the outcome of an individual's development and that an illness that affects one member of the family in one way or another places a strain on the rest of the family. Illness of a family member usually affects the interaction of the whole family and conversely the family can affect the course of an illness and ultimately affect how the ill member recovers.

When illness hits one member the family, the others can be there to provide support and encourage the patient to do what is necessary to get back to optimal health. Families not only can be critical in providing consistent and practical healthcare to the patient, but also to each other by addressing unhealthy habits that might exist within the family. Not only help with the convalescent or rehabilitation of the ill family member, but with understanding if what is construed as risk taking behaviors or unhealthy lifestyle choices. They can influence one another to avoid these types of risk factors. Having the family involved can be like a small unit or team assigned to complete a mission. With the support of the patient's family, a patient is more likely to stay with the prescribed medical regiment, such as completing radiation treatment, participating in physical therapy, or taking prescribed medications correctly. But as a family can be a help in healthcare for their members, it can also be a hindrance due to the challenges that family must face that did not exist decades ago.

The traditional term family has changed from the definition viewed some 50-70 years ago. Back then, the traditional view of the term family included a husband, wife, and child living under one roof. No longer. Family is now defined in a variety of forms which did not exist, or were at best rare, five to seven decades ago. Now emotional relationships, vice blood relations, define family. These include single parents, gay couples raising children; extended families of mom, dad, children, siblings, and grandparents living under one roof. Also effecting the defining the family of society today are economical factors have force both the father and mother to both work full time jobs and in some cases work two or more jobs. So in some parts of this country, families are force to live with the grandparents, or have brothers and sisters living under one roof. Adult children are leaving their parent's homes much later. Couples are having children later in life or not at all which has lead to a decline in household size. All this changes the mindset of what one might think of the word family.

The definition of family is more subjective today than ever before. Different health organizations, companies, and people might find the definition of family completely different from one another. For instance a 1988 edition of Webster's dictionary defines family as "a fundamental social group in society consisting especially of a man and their offspring".

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