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Course # 99202 • Geriatric Failure to Thrive: A Multidimensional Problem


As the number of elderly patients increases, nurses and other healthcare providers must become knowledgeable about the special healthcare needs of the geriatric population. Undesired weight loss and malnutrition in the elderly are significant problems, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Residents of skilled nursing facilities are at special risk. Geriatric failure to thrive is a diagnosis commonly used in geriatrics, and the four chief characteristics are impaired physical function, malnutrition, depression, and cognitive impairment. Participants who complete this course will learn about the identification, evaluation, and assessment of geriatric failure to thrive, including use of the Mini Nutritional Assessment, the Mini Mental Status Evaluation, and the Geriatric Depression Scale. Diagnostic/laboratory and physical assessment skills will be reviewed with a focus on weight-loss assessment. Creation of a multidisciplinary treatment plan with review of pharmaceutical options will be explored. This will give the healthcare professional the knowledge and tools necessary to identify this syndrome early. This activity will help promote better health outcomes for the geriatric population by education of the care providers and with the promotion of evidence-based practice.

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Education Category: Geriatrics

Release Date: 04/01/2017

Review Date: 01/15/2020

Expiration Date: 03/31/2021


This course is designed for nurses, nurse practitioners, and behavioral health professionals who work in or are interested in learning more about geriatrics. Other disciplines that may benefit from this training include dieticians, therapists, and psychologists.


In support of improving patient care, NetCE is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team. NetCE is approved by the California Nursing Home Administrator Program as a provider of continuing education. Provider number 1622. NetCE is approved to offer continuing education through the Florida Board of Nursing Home Administrators, Provider #50-2405. As a Jointly Accredited Organization, NetCE is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. NetCE maintains responsibility for this course. Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists are provided through the co-sponsorship of the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The APA CEP Office maintains responsibility for the content of the programs. NetCE is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). NetCE complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognized internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices. As a result of this accreditation, NetCE is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. NetCE is approved as a provider of online continuing education for certified nursing assistants through the California Department of Public Health Licensing and Certification Division. Nurse Aide Certification (NAC) Provider #7005. NetCE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0033. This course is considered self-study, as defined by the New York State Board for Social Work. Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of licensed master social work and licensed clinical social work in New York. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice for an LMSW and LCSW. A licensee who practices beyond the authorized scope of practice could be charged with unprofessional conduct under the Education Law and Regents Rules.

Designations of Credit

NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 5 ANCC contact hour(s). NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 6 hours for Alabama nurses. Social workers participating in this intermediate to advanced course will receive 5 Clinical continuing education clock hours. This home study course is approved by the Florida Board of Nursing Home Administrators for 5 credit hour(s). This course is approved by the California Nursing Home Administrator Program for 5 hour(s) of continuing education credit - NHAP#1622005-6085/P. California NHAs may only obtain a maximum of 10 hours per course. AACN Synergy CERP Category A. NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 5 credit(s). NetCE is authorized by IACET to offer 0.5 CEU(s) for this program.

Individual State Nursing Approvals

In addition to states that accept ANCC, NetCE is approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by: Alabama, Provider #ABNP0353, (valid through November 21, 2021); Arkansas, Provider #50-2405; California, BRN Provider #CEP9784; California, LVN Provider #V10662; California, PT Provider #V10842; District of Columbia, Provider #50-2405; Florida, Provider #50-2405; Georgia, Provider #50-2405; Kentucky, Provider #7-0054 through 12/31/2021; South Carolina, Provider #50-2405. South Carolina, Provider #50-2405; West Virginia RN and APRN, Provider #50-2405.

Individual State Behavioral Health Approvals

In addition to states that accept ASWB, NetCE is approved as a provider of continuing education by the following state boards: Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners, Provider #0515; Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, CE Broker Provider #50-2405; Illinois Division of Professional Regulation for Social Workers, License #159.001094; Illinois Division of Professional Regulation for Licensed Professional and Clinical Counselors, License #197.000185; Illinois Division of Professional Regulation for Marriage and Family Therapists, License #168.000190; Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners, Approval #3011;

Course Objective

The purpose of this course is to educate nurses, social workers, and other healthcare providers regarding geriatric failure to thrive and to promote evidence-based clinical practice when caring for patients with this condition.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define the various conditions responsible for unintended weight loss in geriatric patients, including geriatric failure to thrive.
  2. Analyze various ethical and legal issues that can arise when treating geriatric failure to thrive patients and the role of advance directives in ameliorating some of these issues.
  3. Outline necessary components of the physical assessment and differential diagnosis of geriatric failure to thrive.
  4. Evaluate the role of polypharmacy in unintended weight loss in elderly patients.
  5. Describe the role of mental health screening in geriatric failure to thrive patients.
  6. Create a treatment plan for a geriatric failure to thrive patients, including possible pharmacotherapy approaches and areas for monitoring and follow-up.
  7. Identify geriatric failure to thrive patients for whom hospice referral should be considered.


Susan Waterbury, MSN, FNP-BC, ACHPN, entered the medical field as an RN in 1990. She continued her education, achieving a Master’s Degree from the University of Central Florida in 1999. She has worked as a Family and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner since 2000, in family practice, geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care. She achieved board certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner in 2000 and as an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse in 2006. She holds nurse practitioner licenses in Florida, Virginia, and Maryland.

In addition to her clinical positions, Ms. Waterbury continues to play an active role in educating and mentoring nurses and other healthcare professionals. She is a faculty member of University of Phoenix, focusing on nursing leadership. She has developed and presented many educational programs for a variety of healthcare organizations and community groups.

Faculty Disclosure

Contributing faculty, Susan Waterbury, MSN, FNP-BC, ACHPN, has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

Division Planners

Jane C. Norman, RN, MSN, CNE, PhD

Alice Yick Flanagan, PhD, MSW

James Trent, PhD

Division Planners Disclosure

The division planners have disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

About the Sponsor

The purpose of NetCE is to provide challenging curricula to assist healthcare professionals to raise their levels of expertise while fulfilling their continuing education requirements, thereby improving the quality of healthcare.

Our contributing faculty members have taken care to ensure that the information and recommendations are accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The publisher disclaims any liability, loss or damage incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents. Participants are cautioned about the potential risk of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into practice.

Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of NetCE not to accept commercial support. Furthermore, commercial interests are prohibited from distributing or providing access to this activity to learners.

Technical Requirements

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