Carol Cummings, RN, BSN, Expert on Aging Well

Contact Carol
21 May 2018

In 2017, for the sixteenth consecutive year, Gallup found that nursing is the public’s most trusted profession. That means when a nurse speaks, people listen.

At Brookdale, I have the privilege of being one of thousands of nurses who care for our residents. And care we do, in abundance. But do nurses practice what we preach? According to a September 2014 report in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, the answer is no. Before we ask our nurses to care for others, we must ask, “Are they caring for themselves?”

The report notes that nurses have higher rates than the general public of numerous health conditions and may not always be good at caring for themselves. According to the report, “The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines a healthy nurse as one who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, personal and professional wellbeing. A healthy nurse lives life to the fullest capacity, across the wellness/illness continuum, as they become stronger role models, advocates, and educators, personally, for their families, their communities and work environments, and ultimately for their patients.”

The ANA definition of wellness closely aligns with Brookdale’s Optimum Life model which encompasses six dimensions, purposeful, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and intellectual. We are committed to supporting our nurse’s pursuit of wellness just as much as we are for our residents.

How can we help nurses adopt better health care habits? After all, adopting better stress management techniques, eating habits, fitness routines or simply taking time for yourself takes tremendous energy. On top of work, family and home responsibilities, it can be hard to find the time. However, research proves that self-care is necessary for healthcare professionals. Not only does it combat “burnout, compassion fatigue and moral distress,” it also “promotes personal and professional well-being.”

My advice to nurses is simple, and one that I have found to be tried and true. Make goals and write them down.

I have been passionate about older adult wellness for many years. A few years into that journey I decided to examine my own well-being, realizing I needed to “walk the talk” in order to be credible. So I spent some time looking at my health habits from the perspective of the six dimensions of Optimum Life. For each of the dimensions I wrote down one or two things I wanted to start doing. I made realistic goals and carved out a little time each day to work on them. A few months later, I reviewed my list and realized I had achieved all the goals I wrote down.  

While putting goals in writing seems simple, research proves that when we write down our goals we are 42 percent more likely to reach them. This is because we use more of our brain and set up a scenario where we are looking for opportunities to achieve them.

This month, as part of Brookdale’s culture of wellness campaign, we are providing guidance for Brookdale nurses to implement this goal-setting wellness method themselves.  After all, you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. Brookdale nurses have trusted and respected voices. We are empowering them to put their wellness first so they can impart that wisdom to others.

Be Well on Purpose!

Nurse Appreciation Week is May 6-12, but Brookdale is celebrating a Culture of Wellness in a Clinical World all month. Read blogs from Kim Estes Elliott and Carol Cummings, plus meet Brookdale Health and Wellness Superstars at

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