In nursing, there are techniques used to perform a physical examination of the various body systems of clients across the lifespan. The ultimate goal is to examine the social, cultural, political and economic factors which have effects on the assessment of health across the lifespan. Assessment is the systematic or the unsystematic gathering of relevant information, making analysis and judgment based on the available information (World Health Organization, 1999 p.90). For purposes of this project, three different clients will be chosen across the lifespan. Consequently an infant, a young adult, and an elderly client will be assessed.
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2. Assessment Of An Infant
An infant belongs to an age group in the population that has greater health care needs. However, does not imply that a community with a large population of infants will necessarily allocate resources to take care of this group (Wise, 2009, p. 127). The community may opt to invest the available resources to maintain the health of adults who have the ability to work and take care of the dependent group. The following are factors that have impacts on the assessment of the health of an infant.
a) Social factors
Social factors have an impact on the assessment of the health of an infant. Social factors include social networks. An infant is brought up in a family which is the basic unit of society. There are elements that can be considered when describing social cohesion which affects the way an infant develops in terms of health (Phelps, 2003, p. 234). The family has friendship networks that provide emotional support which is fundamental to the well being of the infant. The family and the community at large provide the right environment for an infant to grow in health (World Health Organization, 1999, p. 89). The provision of basic necessities is realized within the social setting. Love and care from the family enhances the well being of an infant. Social factors have positive and negative effects on the health of an infant.
The provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and access to medical services impacts positively on the health of an infant. An infant who grows up in a social environment where the family strives to give the infant basic needs ultimately has good health (Galabuzi, 2002, p. 68). However, where such social factors are absent, the infant’s health will be impacted negatively. In such a case, the infant may develop illnesses due to lack of parental care. Again the child may suffer neglect if the family does not care. There are many cases of infant neglect which results in poor health in an infant’s life (Mooney, 2000, p. 156).
b) Cultural factors
Cultural factors have an impact on the health assessment of an infant. Culture refers to the integrated patterns of behavior of human beings. Culture includes the language, customs, values, beliefs, thoughts, actions, communications and institutions of social, racial, ethnic and religious groups (Galabuzi, 2002, p. 73). In sum, health care becomes a cultural construct that arises from the community’s beliefs concerning the nature of the human body diseases (Gray, Clarke, Wolstenholme, & Wordsworth, 2010, p 116). Cultural factors are central when it comes to the delivery of healthcare services in this case administering treatment and offering preventive interventions. Cultural beliefs influence how a family takes care of the health of an infant who is not aware of the culture. For example, breastfeeding beliefs by mothers significantly affect the health of an infant. Medically, an infant is supposed to be breastfed for the first six months of life. However, it is notable that due to some cultural beliefs this may not be the case.
Again, it is family especially the mother who determine whether an infant is ill and when to seek medical help (Phelps, 2003, p. 200). Cultural factors have positive and negative effects on the health of an infant. There is a need for the family to understand, value and incorporate cultural factors that will enhance the well being of an infant. In so doing, the infant will grow up with unimpeachable health. On the other hand, cultural factors can have negative effects on the health of an infant. There are cases where the family cultural orientation interferes with the health of an infant. For instance, cultural beliefs that discourage breastfeeding affect an infant’s immune system (Wise, 2009, p. 120). The infant’s immune system weakens and thereby the ability of the infant to fight diseases. It is vital to embrace cultural factors that respond appropriately the health of an infant.
c) Political Factors
The political environment in which an infant develops has effects on its health assessment. The political landscape determines how a family and society at large will look after an infant. The politics of the day affect the health policies put in place to ensure that an infant gets the right healthcare services to steer its development (Shaw, Darling, Gordon & Smith, 1999, p.89). Also, factors such as political strife where there is war and leadership wrangles mean that there is no time to formulate laws and mechanisms that will benefit the health of the infant (Berk, 1993, P. 90). In addition, a political factor such as war disrupts the family unit where the infant may be separated from the family. In such a scenario, the infant will not get the necessary provision and health care needed for growth and development. On the positive side, when there are suitable political factors such as peace and instability, the family is able to nurture an infant and take care of the health development.
c) Economic Factors
The well being of an infant is enhanced by economic factors. An infant is dependent on the family unit for provision (Wilkinson, & Marmot, 1998, p.198). The provision comes from income that the parents get when they work. The levels of employment and unemployment are fundamental where the health of an infant is concerned. The level of income has a direct influence on the health of an infant. It affects the ability of the family in choosing a healthy lifestyle for the infant. In addition, it gives them the power to access healthcare services for the infant. The availability of resources in an economy to satisfy the needs of a family therefore is essential (World Health Organization, 1999, p.100). Disparities exist between infants whose parents are economically stable and those that are not. Where the family is poor, the infant cannot get adequate healthcare which results in the deterioration of the overall health. However, with adequate income, it is possible to access the best healthcare services for the infant.
3. Assessment Of A Young Adult
A young adult refers to a person who is between the ages of twenty to forty years of age. In general, a young adult has good health. The physical performance and biological function have their peak at this particular age. Young adults are normally the dependants in society because the other lifespan depends on them. The following factors are assessed to have impacts of the health of young adults.
a) Social Factors
Young adults’ health is impacted by several social factors. A young adult who has strong family and community have better health than one who is isolated. Social cohesion is a factor that affects the health of a young adult (Galabuzi, 2002, p. 68). The fact that such an individual exists in a society means that they will connect with other people who ensure that they are well in terms of health. A family that cares will not hesitate to ensure that the young adult is in good health (Phelps, 2003, p. 215). Another social factor that impacts on the health of the young adult is education. Health education cannot be overemphasized in the life of a young adult. Being an active member of society with so much on their shoulders, there is a need to take care of their health. When a young adult is educated in healthcare matters, such an individual cannot neglect their health. Again, the young adult is a position to get the best health services (Mooney, 2000, p. 150).
Other social factors that impact on the health of the young adult are behavioral. Social behaviors such as smoking and drinking of excess alcohol is rampant in this life span (Drummond, 2005, p 210). These habits have negative implications on the health of the young adult. These include the development of chronic diseases.
b) Cultural Factors
Culture as stated above is a description of the patterns of behaviors and beliefs of a people. A young adult’s culture impacts on how he or she will respond to any perceived disease symptoms and illnesses (Wilkinson, & Marmot, 1998, p.200). Health practices in the life of a young adult have changed tremendously over the years. For example, different cultures have diverse eating habits. There are cultural beliefs that prohibit the eating of certain kinds of foods because they believe such food may affect their health. In some cultures the young adult is not supposed to eat certain animal foods because of the taboos that the society perceives to be right (Shaw, Darling, Gordon & Smith, 1999, p.74). In the end, the young adult in this case ends up missing essential nutrients that are suitable for maintaining good health.
Furthermore, there are certain cultures that do not believe in the modern ways of maintaining health. For example, a culture that does not believe in medication diminishes the chances of better health when diseases strike (Drummond, 2005, p 208). However, there are cultural belief systems that support the well being of its young adults and ensure that only the cultural constructs that influence the well being of the young adult are utilized (Gray, Clarke, Wolstenholme, & Wordsworth, 2010, p 120). The culture of a society is an underestimated determinant of the young adult’s health and well-being.
c) Political Factors
The politics of the social environment impact on health. The political class normally has an agenda for the development of the population. In this regard, the government will enact laws and policies regarding the health care system (Phelps, 2003, p. 167). The healthcare system of a country determines the well being of the citizens in terms of health. Therefore, it is crucial that the necessary mechanisms are put in place to achieve this goal. A young adult in a political setting where there is an attempt to avail health services will attain better health standards. Peace and stability in the political system ensures the young adult can access health services at their convenience (Berkman & Glass, 2000, p. 153).
d) Economic Factors
The attainment of healthcare by a young adult is dependent on economic factors. Economic factors range from employment to availability of resources. The level of income determines the quality of healthcare a young adult is bound to get in the health industry (Pattie, & Gilleard, 1979, p 83). Where the young adult has a decent job, the job may come with a healthcare package that helps them whenever there health issues arise. The provision of health insurance by the employment company is thus paramount. Also, the accessibility of healthcare becomes easy with a stable economy (World Health Organization, 1999, p 78). Unemployment on the other hand leads to inaccessibility of health services because a young adult who is unemployed cannot afford them. Another economic factor that impacts on the young adult’s health is location. The economic status of a locality determines the kind health services that will be available (Drummond, 2005, p 205). For example, a young adult who lives in a locality where the economy is low is likely to get poor health services because such services are the only ones available.
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4. Assessment Of The Elderly Client
As the infant client discussed above, the elderly client has numerous health care needs. This client belongs to a group of people who are ageing. Therefore, a lot attention is paid to innovative means of helping the elderly client retain physical, mental abilities and independence. This in return maximizes the elderly client’s contribution to the society and economy (Shaw, Darling, Gordon & Smith, 1999, p.57). There is a need to understand the social, cultural, political and economic factors that impact on the health of an elderly client.
a) Social Factors
There are social factors that impact on the health of the elderly client. In fact, there exist demographic as well as social changes which impact on the health of the elderly client. One of the social factors is change in the family set up. An elderly person requires a strong social network (Wise, 2009, p. 121). This implies that the family unit should take care of the elderly by showing them affection and love. This may not be the case because other social factors come into play disrupting the social connectivity. For example, migration of family members is a social factor that impacts on the health of the elderly client. When children in a family grow up, they normally migrate and settle in other places (Wilkinson, & Marmot, 1998, p.192). This leaves the elderly client with minimal social support which negatively impact on their health.
Where the elderly client is economically unstable, he or she cannot provide the basics of life such as food. The absence of love and care for the elderly person leads to a compromise on his or her health. With the absence of social ties that provide basic needs to the elderly person the status of his health becomes poor. Social alienation or seclusion negatively affects the health of the elderly client (Phelps, 2003, p. 212). This normally happens where the social set up does not interact with the elderly client. This way, the elderly client feels withdrawn and can develop illnesses.
b) Cultural Factors
Cultural factors can impact on the assessment of the health of the elderly client. Culture as has been defined in the above discussion means the integration of patterns human being behavior. Incorporated in culture are customs, beliefs, values, language, thoughts, actions, and communications of various groups. In essence health care is constructed by the culture of a people (Shaw, Darling, Gordon & Smith, 1999, p.62). Cultural factors influence the delivery of healthcare services. Cultural beliefs determine how the health of the elderly person is administered. In this paper, the elderly person is aware of the cultural orientation of the society concerning healthcare. Some of the cultural beliefs are good and in particular those that boost the health of the client such as eating certain kinds of medicinal traditional foods (Barer, & Marmor 1994, p. 80).
It is notable that the elderly client may have preconceived notions where healthcare is concerned. The elderly client has a belief in the traditional system of healing and is not ready to accept the western mode of treatment when he or she is not in good health. This greatly impacts on the health of the client especially where the traditional medicine fails (Mooney, 2000, p.105). There are other cultural factors such as taboos where there restrictions on the intake of certain types of foods. Some of the food types that are restricted are important in strengthening and maintaining the health of the elderly client. The quality of life of the elderly client has effects on the health status. The elderly client should live in good housing conditions with social amenities such as water and hospitals (Gray, Clarke, Wolstenholme, & Wordsworth, 2010, p 116).
c) Political Factors
Every society cannot be devoid of politics. Political factors in a society have both positive and negative impact on the health of the elderly client. They enhance social stability whereby the family set up is secure and can take care of the client. This in turn facilitates the peaceful coexistence within a family and the subsequent care improves the health of the elderly (Pattie, & Gilleard, 1979, p 45). Political stability ensures the setting up of health facilities as one of the policies implemented by the government (Shaw, Darling, Gordon & Smith, 1999, p.59). In addition, there is enough time to deal with health matters unlike in times of political turmoil when the state concentrates more on peace building other than the health of the citizens.
d) Economic Factors
To assess the economic factors that impact on the health of the elderly client, is important to look at employment. The elderly client may be employed or unemployed. The age of the client affects their performance at work. Work on the other hand affects the health of the client. Economic factors may force the elderly client to be employed even when their age dictates otherwise (Wilkinson, & Marmot, 1998, p.205). The nature of work given to the elderly person should be put into consideration. Too much work leads to a decline in health. There are age-related changes which impair performance and may in the long run harm the health of the client. Some of the changes that occur in the elderly client are a decline in cardiovascular, muscular and respiratory functions (Phelps, 2003, p. 198). Vision and hearing can also be impaired. Economic stability of the elderly client ensures that he or she is in a position to access the basic necessities of life. It also helps them to afford appropriate healthcare.
In summary, the examination of the social, cultural, political and economic factors which have impacts on the assessment of health across the life span show important results. Across the lifespan, from infant, to the young adult and finally the elderly client the factors the impacts are evident. There are similarities as well as differences on how each of the factors impact on the three subjects of the lifespan. It is notable that some factors have direct impacts while others affect the subject differently.
For instance, all the factors indirectly impact on the health of the infant. It is the family that takes care of the infant. The infant’s health therefore is dependent on the actions of the parents or the social setting. Therefore the social, cultural, political and economic factors that impact on the health of the infant in the assessment directly affect the family and the infant indirectly. The young adult has a greater responsibility in dealing with the impacts of the above factors. This is because the infant and the elderly client are dependent on the young adult. The young adult has the burden of taking care of their health as well as that of the infant and the elderly client against the negative effects of the factors discussed above.
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