Professional Development Programs

Certificate Program in Advanced Assessment of the Older Adult



The population of the United States is aging rapidly, with an estimated 25% of the population becoming age 65 or older by the year 2030. The social and health care needs of older adults are both unique and challenging. This non-credit / CEU program will assist the nurse and/or health care provider in developing and refining skills useful in the assessment of older adults in the community and supported living environments.

Topics for discussion include the demographics of aging in the United States, age-related physical changes, physical and mental health, and functional assessment. We will also explore polypharmacy and pharmacokinetics in the older adult. Although the focus of the course is assessment, we will discuss management of certain acute and chronic health problems unique to aging.

In this non-credit / CEU program participants learn to:

  • Complete a health history and physical assessment focusing on the unique needs of the older adult in a variety of settings
  • Describe age related changes
  • Assess for challenges related to changing pharmacokinetics and polypharmacy
  • Assess mental health needs
  • Assist in maximizing physical and mental function in community and supported living environments

A variety of teaching modalities, including interactive lectures, physical assessment practicum, case studies, and guest presenters will enhance the learning process.

Day One: Physical, Social and Psychological Assessment of the Older Adult: Part I

  • Demographics of older Americans
  • Social and economic issues unique to aging in the United States
  • The assessment process
  • Age related physical changes and physical exam of the older adult: Part I

Date Two: Physical, Social and Psychological Assessment of the Older Adult: Part II

  • Age related physical changes and physical exam of the older adult: Part II
  • Mental health assessment
  • Substance abuse and substance dependence
  • Chronic pain

Day Three: Medications and the Older Adult

  • Polypharmacy
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Medication and lifestyle management of common chronic health problems

Day Four: Functional Assessment and Optimizing Care of the Older Adult

  • Using assessment to maximize health in community and supported living environments
  • Sexual health
  • Driving
  • Nutrition
  • Optimizing medical care in the long-term care setting
  • End-of-life decisions and supportive care



This non-credit / CEU certificate program is offered during the spring semester only. The spring semester begins in January and runs through June. All spring courses post to our website in November. To stay up-to-date on course offerings, sign up for our Professional & Continuing Education Newsletter.



$625 (Includes all course materials)

  • Refund policy:
    • 100% refund if you withdraw from a class five or more business days before the class starts.
    • A course voucher for 50% of the course fee if you withdraw four or fewer business days from the start date.
    • There are no refunds once a class begins.


Contact Hours/CEUs:

26 Contact  Hours / 2.6 CEUs

This is a non-credit continuing education program.



  • Gale Johnsen, PhD, MSN is a family nurse practitioner living in western Maine. She has extensive experience in geriatrics both in family practice and long-term care settings. She has taught at the graduate level for Simmons College, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the University of Southern Maine and regularly conducts workshops and seminars on geriatric topics.

View more instructor biographies.


Professional Resources:

  • Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
    The international leader in advancing education on aging and is the only institutional membership organization devoted primarily to gerontology and geriatrics education since 1974.  AGHE's mission is two-fold:  (1) To advance gerontology and geriatrics education in academic institutions; and (2) To provide leadership and support of gerontology and geriatrics education faculty and students at education institutions
  • USM School of Nursing
    The School's faculty are committed to providing exemplary educational programs,scholarship, and community and professional service which is responsive to the needs of the citizens of Maine and in the global community.
  • The American Geriatrics Society
    A not-for-profit organization of over 6,000 health professionals devoted to improving the health, independence and quality of life of all older people. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policy makers and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy.


Student Profile:

Jackie Flowers 
“I’ve always ascribed to the notion that, if you find a job you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” She also believes that touch is the best therapy for someone in distress, and that education is a continual requirement. Those three convictions are the guideposts as Jackie’s career enters a transition from nursing to healthcare staff work. Read More.